CALIFORNIA STATE TAX ASSOCIATION
PROBLEM OF HIGH TAXES
IN SAN FRANCISCO
Being a Discussion of Some of the Avoidable Causes
of Waste and Inefficiency in Transacting
the City's Business
CALIFORNIA STATE TAX ASSOCIATION
■ AiiCiSCO HISTORY CENTER
San Francisco Public Library
Not to be taken from the Library
CALIFORNIA STATE TAX ASSOCIATION
PROBLEM OF HIGH TAXES
IN SAN FRANCISCO
I. The Problem 7
II. The Solution 1 1
III. Mayor, Supervisors and Administrative Boards 14
IV. Municipal Revenues 17
V. Assessment Methods 27
VI. Budget 32
(a) Analysis of Budget of 1913-14 41
VII. Accounting 67
VIII. Purchasing 68
IX. Civil Service 75
X. Departmental Surveys 92
(a) Police Department 96
(b) Health Department 104
(c) Sheriff's Office 113
XI. Closing Summary 120
The Recorder PrlntiDg and Publishing Company
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GOVERNMENTAL. ORGAN TZ AT/ ON OF
SAN FRANC/SCO CITY ANO COUNTY
The accompanying report is the result of an examination into
municipal affairs in San Francisco with a view to discovering some
of the causes of the rapid increase in governmental expense; that
is, some of the avoidable causes not related to growth in popula-
tion and the addition of new functions.
It is in no sense a technical work. The sole object has been to
point out, for the information of taxpayers and the public gener-
ally, how, where, and why there is waste and inefficiency; in other
words, by observation and analysis to diagnose the case. More
advanced specialists in the science of government can undertake
The Need of Such a Work.
Any cKzen who goes to the trouble of comparing his tax bills
of the past half-dozen years will be impressed with the importance
of finding out how his money is spent.
Aside from a few generalizations, emanating usually from
sources too friendly or too hostile toward incumbent officials, and
for that reason not convincing, there has been nothing to indicate
the comparative efficiency of the several departments or of the
city government as a whole. The existing system of reporting, as
in the Municipal Reports, is worthless in this respect.
Nevertheless, if the "municipal problem" is to be solved in San
Francisco, taxpayers must know the facts and, further, must act
upon them. This truth is recognized by the present Finance Com-
mittee of the Board of Supervisors, which has written into its
budget report for the coming year the following significant state-
Rigid economy and a higher standard of efficiency must
be enforced, else San Francisco's tax rate, which is now
lower than in cities of comparable size, will rise to a disas-
The Plan of This Association.
With a view to supplying the necessary facts as a basis for
public discussion and constructive criticism, the inquiry reported
on herein was begun more than a year ago by the California State
This Association was organized in 19 13 as an independent, non-
partisan, non-political body to promote the interests of tax reform
in California. Since organization it has formulated and consist-
ently urged a program for the improvement of general revenue
and assessment laws, a summary of which is contained in a printed
pamphlet entitled, "The Problem of Taxation in California," which
has been widely circulated.
It is well known, however, that effective tax reform consists
not only in the correction of evils attending the levy and collection
of taxes, but also in the improvement of conditions surrounding
the EXPENDITURE of public money; i. e., in securing economy
In order to demonstrate this second object of the Association,
it was desired to make such a study of purely typical conditions
as would, when published, awaken a desire on the part of the
taxpayers for more efficient, less wasteful, methods of transact-
ing public business. It was recognized that on the administrative
side all counties and cities are very much alike, with problems
of organization, management and accounting that differ only as
to size. The effort was to prepare a report on conditions com-
mon to all that would serve as a guide for the lesser counties and
cities in making similar studies. San Francisco was chosen for
the reason that its organization as a combined city and county
presents all of the problems of local government to be found in
The Point of View.
In approaching the task, the Association chose for its platform
the active renunciation of two common beliefs:
FIRST, that government must necessarily be less hon-
est and less competent than private business; and
SECOND, that official integrity, purpose and ability
alone are a guarantee of efficient management.
The first reflects the atmosphere of practical politics; the sec-
ond is the fallen idol of many a "reform" campaign. Between the
cynicism of the one viewpoint and the stupidity of the other,
municipal government has become a paramount problem in Ameri-
The alternative, as adopted by this Association, is to look upon
a city simply as a business enterprise, fairly comparable in the size
and scope of its activities with the largest private corporations,
which is maintained for the purpose of supplying certain measur-
able services to the community at cost.
Most of the functions of a city can be and, in fact, have been
performed by private companies earning a profit. Nearly every
undertaking, from conducting hospitals and schools to sweeping
and repairing streets, has at one time or another in the past been
under private management.
The transfer to public management involves no change in busi-
ness method or in the organization and direction of the work. It
is not unfair, therefore, to apply to public business the same tests
of efficiency that are constantly applied to private business. There
is no cause for difference in the methods employed or in their
effectiveness, and there is an equally strong requirement of special
skill and training on the part of employes.
This view has been sustained throughout the work.
Summary of the Report.
The accompanying report begins with a plain statement of the
"Problem," which comprehends briefly the whole subject of grow-
ing municipal expense and its meaning to the average taxpayer,
followed by a brief discussion of the "Solution," in which attention
is called to the singular fact that San Francisco alone of all large
American cities, has not joined in the municipal research movement
toward better government.
Under the chapter headings of "Municipal Revenues" and
"Assessment Methods" the statements summarized in the opening
chapter are amplified and discussed, showing the relative tax
burden in San Francisco and cities of comparable size, and the
trend of local revenues during recent years.
The city's plan of spending is considered next, under the
heading of "Budget." Here an effort has been made not only to
call attention to the inexact and unscientific methods used in
planning the expenditure of $15,000,000 annually, but through an
analysis of a particular budget (of the fiscal year 1913-14) it is
shown concretely how these methods are productive of waste and
But a defective plan is not the only cause. An efficient govern-
ment must contrive to get value received for every dollar spent,
whether for materials and supplies, or for personal services. In
a chapter on Purchasing, the faults of the present methods of
buying, receiving and accounting for goods are enumerated. The
chapter on Civil Service discloses how there is a waste of the
public's money under present conditions, for lack of better methods
of employing, paying and discharging the city's employes.
Finally, much of the waste and inefficiency found in public
business is directly attributable to poor organization. Under the
heading of "Departmental Surveys" the importance of subjecting
each department and office of the city government to an intensive
study for the purpose of discovering defects in organization is
discussed, followed by three examples of such surveys wherein the
need of such work is graphically shown.
In conclusion, the report undertakes to summarize briefly the
more important steps necessary to be taken to eliminate the waste
and inefficiency that has grown up in the city government.
Throughout the report, all possible emphasis has been placed
upon methods and results, and none upon personalities and politics.
No criticism lies against any official. All reference to natural mis-
takes and errors in judgment has been carefully avoided as being
irrelevant in this discussion. Only those methods and practices
subject to correction have been considered.
Delay in Publication.
The inquiry was begun more than a year ago and was com-
pleted last December. At that time, owing to the approaching
charter and water bond elections, it was decided to postpone pub-
lication until these events should be past. No change has occurred
meanwhile to lessen the force of the conclusions and recommenda-
tions contained herein.
DUDLEY CATES, Secretary,
CALIFORNIA STATE TAX ASSOCIATION.
San Francisco's expenditures have increased 165 per cent in
fifteen years, with an increase of but 46 per cent in the popula-
tion. (Note 1.)
These figures have to do only with the current expenses of
the municipal government. They include interest and sinking
fund charges on bonds, but do not include about $40,000,000
spent from bond issues since 1900. (Note 2.)
This tells the story of the past.
For the future, instead of reduced operating expenses, con-
siderably more money will be required.
Every new activity and many proposed improvements mean
increased fixed charges for maintenance. For example, a few
of the undertakings which cannot be much longer delayed or
have already been commenced, which will require large sums
for operation, are,
(a) the Civic Center;
(b) the new San Francisco Hospital;
(c) additional parks and playgrounds;
(d) additional schools;
(e) the new boulevard system;
(f) garbage and rubbish removal by the city instead of by
(g) garbage incineration;
(h) city planning;
(i) public comfort stations;
(j) increased health and sanitary inspection;
(k) more paved streets, better street lighting, etc., etc.
The foregoing enumeration not being intended as a com*
These are needs that must be met. They are the peremp*
tory demands of the new era, San Francisco's broader civic life.
Citizens should not ignore them; officials dare not.
A Question of Revenue.
The city's principal source of revenue is the direct taxation
In the fifteen years since 1900 the tax levy for municipal
purposes has increased 164 per cent. (Chart II.)
Elsewhere in this report will be found a fuller study of
revenues, wherein three significant facts are revealed:
Note 1. — This assumes a population of 500,000; the U. S. Census Reports
for 1914 give 448,200.
Note 2. — The increased debt of the city is responsible for a considerable
share of the growing- expense. Eliminating- the amounts paid for interest
and redemption of bonds, the budget expenditures have increased 114 per
cent in the 15-year period.
TAX LEVIES l<)«° - '<?«/-
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TAX LEVy FOR STATE AND CW
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» » •» DEBT
First, that the effort to tax personal property has broken
down almost entirely;
Second, that miscellaneous revenues from sources other than
taxation are falling off rather than increasing; and
Third, that all of the increased costs of government are
borne by the tax on real estate.
It is possible to build up in some degree the indirect sources
of revenue, following the practice of other cities, but these
nevertheless will grow proportionately smaller year by year.
Taxation must supply the funds, and if some means is not devised
to check the steady diminution in the personalty tax and make
this form of property pay a larger share of the expense of
government, it will remain for real estate to bear the whole
In Comparison With Other Cities.
It has been the practice of the Assessor of the City and
County of San Francisco to publish comparative tables showing
that San Francisco escapes with a light tax burden.
The manner of reaching this conclusion is discussed elsewhere
in this report. Here there is presented a genuine comparison,
based on the actual per capita tax levies of the largest American
Only three large cities in the United States — Boston, New
York and Pittsburgh — pay more taxes in proportion to their
population than does San Francisco. (Note i.)
In the six cities comparable in size with San Francisco,
namely, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo and
Milwaukee, the average per capita tax was $19.47 in 1912. The
per capita tax in San Francisco the same year was $24.14, or
24 per cent higher than the average for other American cities
with population between 400,000 and 600,000.*
The rate of increase has been higher in San Francisco also
in recent years than in any other large city, with the single
exception of Detroit. Comparing the tax levies of the thirteen
largest cities in 1908 with the levies in 1912, the average rate
of increase is 33 per cent. During that period, the tax levy in
San Francisco increased 53 per cent.f
How Much Can Real Estate Stand?
Unless conditions of extraordinary prosperity obtain con-
tinuously, higher taxation presently must become a dead line
for the city's future growth.
Note 1.— Bureau of the Census: Financial Statistics of Cities, 1912.
Per capita tax levies:
New York 30.72
SAN FRANCISCO 24.14
Other per capita levies all below Cincinnati.
tBureau of the Census: Financial Statistics of Cities. 1907 and 1912.
This is a demonstrable fact. An equitable tax appropriates
only income, not capital, and a tax on real estate must be paid
from rents or from the normal increase in land values. Rents
cannot be raised beyond what the trade, business and salaries
of the community will bear, and when these are not sufficient to
pay taxes and yield in addition a proper return to the investor,
depression sets in and development is checked.
Whether this point has been reached already in San Fran-
cisco is open to question, but there is no question that it will
be reached soon, if the present rate of increase is maintained.
Rents are much higher than in competitive cities, and there is a
general belief that no change toward increased rental is possible
until, by increase in business and population, a normal and legiti-
mate rise in real estate values is brought about.
For the small property-holder, that large body of citizens
owning their own homes, there is much discouragement. In-
creased assessment values with increased taxes mean increased
living expenses. The desire to own a home is lessened and the
social menace of a proletarian population grows apace.
For the large property-holder, who buys and builds for invest-
ment, high taxes act as a strong deterrent. The capital of
this body of citizens tends to seek other fields and the com-
This is the problem of San Francisco: to carry on its neces-
sary public work without sacrifice of the future.
There can be no doubt that beyond a given point taxation
reacts most powerfully upon a community, affecting adversely
the social and economic life of the people.
In San Francisco, with the necessity at hand for making
additional expenditures, and with revenues from taxation already
close to the limit imposed by economic law, but one resort
By more efficient management to cut the costs of operation
sufficiently to SAVE funds for the additional requirements.
Herein is the implied charge that San Francisco's manage-
ment is unnecessarily expensive; that there is a waste of public
money; that savings can be made without a sacrifice of effi-
ciency. Is the statement supported by facts?
A Word of Explanation.
The public and public officials generally are weary of the
municipal reformer with his reckless accusations and his untried
So, too, with the "special investigator," who follows the
trail of a penny graft and ignores the leakage of dollars gone to
It may be taken that graft is not costing the tax-payers of
San Francisco five cents a year. It may be assumed that no
official is wantonly wasting the public's time or money. Neither
the integrity nor the purpose of officials is challenged in the
least when the charge is made, and repeated, that San Fran-
cisco's management is unnecessarily expensive. This should be
understood in order to appreciate the motive of the California
State Tax Association in undertaking this work.
Facts, Facts, Facts.
The whole work of the Association, as reported on herein,
has been a quest for FACTS — facts that would show how, where
and why there is waste and inefficiency in the city government.
With the resources available to the enquirers, a compre-
hensive, analytical survey of the 56 elective offices and 10 or
more departments was not possible, but a sufficient study was
made to indicate the purposes of the work and to justify the
statement that there is urgent need for carrying it into every
branch of the city's activities.
The only standards set up were those that have been tested
in practice in other cities, especially in those cities where the
municipal research movement has borne such excellent fruit in
the past eight years. On the administrative side, all large cities
are very much alike. Their functions are identical, and methods
that are successful in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia or St.
Louis are applicable in San Francisco, whether they relate to
street construction, budget-making, accounting, purchasing or
any other purely administrative or operating function of the
Local pride cannot overcome the fact that nearly all large
American cities are ahead of San Francisco in the systematic
study and adoption of modern administrative methods. In addi-
tion to the four cities named above, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pitts-
burgh, Boston, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and a score of others
maintain active efficiency or municipal research bureaus, either
as a part of the official government or as a private agency sup-
ported by citizens, to examine the structure, analyze the func-
tions and duties of departments and individual employes and
put into effect the best thought and experience available on the
High taxes forced upon these cities the intensive study of
High taxes compel San Francisco to the same course.
A Summary of Conditions.
Some of the practices and conditions which make government
unnecessarily expensive in San Francisco are noted below. Else-
where in this report they are discussed in more detail. They are:
i. Paying more than the market rate indicates a service is
2. Failure to prepare specifications for purchases in such a
way as to eliminate favoritism and to obtain the best terms.
3. Absence of central control over expenditures.
4. Lack of discipline among employes.
5. Inexact, unscientific methods of budget-making, which
operate to create large surpluses as a temptation to extravagance.
6. Delay in the audit and payment of claims.
7. Duplication of effort, or lack of co-ordination, as in the
city's accounting system.
8. Failure to keep in all departments and institutions records
of supplies, stores and equipment, although it is as important to
maintain strict stewardship over goods as over money.
9. Failure to keep comparable records of the cost of feeding
prisoners at the jails, inmates at the relief home, etc.; of the
unit cost of street construction and repair; of repairs to city
automobiles, etc., etc.
10. Failure to maintain individual efficiency records of the
more than 3,000 city employes.
11. Absence of any attempt to standardize salaries.
12. A general belief that the city is rich and can afford to
be open-handed; that a time-clock in the corridor would be an
insult to employes; that the old rule o' thumb is good enough;
in general, the belief that public business cannot be as compe-
tent or as efficient as private business.
A Summary of Reasons.
There are reasons apart from official negligence and bad faith
for these conditions. Some of them are given below:
i. Needless and cumbersome charter restrictions.
2. Faulty organization, causing indefinite responsibility and
lack of co-ordination.
3. Patronage — the granting of private favors at public ex-
pense, a practice still condoned in the atmosphere of "practical
4. Lack of competent direction.
5. A wrong conception of the purposes of "Civil Service."
6. Tests of individual and departmental efficiency not gen-
erally available, because of absence of proper accounts and
8. Lack of public interest in the city's business.
What is to be Done?
From the FACTS collected in the inquiry made by this Asso-
ciation, it can be shown that there is a leakage of public funds.
From the experience of other cities, it is known that this
leakage can be stopped.
The accompanying report is a. first step in a program of
municipal betterment in San Francisco.
THE MAYOR, THE SUPERVISORS AND THE
In order to comprehend the workings of the San Francisco
municipal government it is necessary first to understand the
informal relationship existing between the Mayor, the Board of
Supervisors and the Administrative Boards and Commissions,
such as the Board of Public Works, the Board of Health, etc. —
a relationship which is largely independent of the organization
plan outlined in the Charter.
The plain intent of the Charter was to separate the legislative
and administrative functions of the city government. To this
end, all legislative power was vested in the Board of Supervis-
ors, which is a political body elected by the people, and all
administrative authority was given into the hands of non-
political boards and commissions appointed by the Mayor for
fixed terms and answerable to him as the Chief Executive.
This balance has not been maintained, with the result that
the original plan has been turned all awry. To a large extent,
the Board of Supervisors through its committees has usurped
the powers and duties of the appointed Boards. Through its
control of funds it has been able to reduce some of these to the
position of mere figure-heads. Some of the Boards have stub-
bornly resisted the encroachments of the Supervisors, and con-
flicts are of monthly occurrence. Others have effected informal
compromises. The result is that nearly every one of the eleven
Boards and Commissions stands today in a different relation-
ship to the Supervisors.
While it may be granted that in many cases the action of the
Board of Supervisors in seeking additional powers was for the
public good; that is, that it was caused by the desire to control
inefficient boards, the changed situation presents new evils which
in time may be worse than the old.
First, there is the lack of harmony and co-operation which
must inevitably grow out of such a situation.
Second, when powers and duties are not clearly defined and
enumerated, it is virtually impossible to place responsibility.
Third, all authorities are agreed (as were the Freeholders
who drafted the San Francisco Charter) that the gravest abuses
must sooner or later attend the exercise by political bodies of
administrative powers, for the reason that political considera-
tions will come to influence their judgments.
Many examples might be cited to show the extent of these
conflicts. Through its Streets Committee, the Board of Super-
visors usurps that part of the authority of the Board of Public
Works wherein the latter is expressly given discretionary powers
in ordering the repair and improvement of streets. The Charter
(Article VI, Chapter II, Section 2) reads:
"No street work or street improvement of any kind
shall be ordered to be done by the Supervisors unless a
written recommendation to do the same has been made
to them by the Board of Public Works. . . ."
This section is nullified by the practice of the Board of Super-
visors of commanding the Board of Public Works to make spe-
cific recommendations, of which the following, from the Journal
of Proceedings of November 9, 1914, is an illustration:
"On motion of Supervisor McCarthy:
J. R. No. 1506.
"Resolved, that the Board of Public Works is hereby
directed to recommend the repaving of Powell street,
between Sutter and Bush streets."
The resolution was passed without a dissenting vote, as a part
of the regular routine of the meeting. It was offered by Super-
visor McCarthy in behalf of the Streets Committee, which, in
conjunction with the Finance Committee, controls all expendi-
tures for street work.
The Buildings Committee of the Board of Supervisors, and
not the Board of Public Works, controls and directs the repair
and maintenance of public buildings. The Lighting and Rates
Committee regulates all street lighting. The Health, Police and
Fire Committees exercise a variable measure of administrative
control over these departments, and the Finance Committee is
almost constantly in conflict with one or another of the Boards,
or with several at a time, over the propriety of expenditures,
often endeavoring to assert an authority it does not possess;
sometimes conferring privileges it has no right to confer.
Divided authority means divided responsibility, which is highly
undesirable from the standpoint of public policy. A peculiarly
significant manifestation of the current tendency towards divided
responsibility was the recent shifting from the Board of Police
Commissioners to the Board of Supervisors of the question of
permitting dancing in cafes. In this case, the Supervisors were
asked to approve a "Journal Resolution" (not an ordinance)
declaring it to be "the sense of the Board" that the citizens of
San Francisco should not be restrained from enjoyment of danc-
ing. Utterly apart from the question itself, the point made here
is that the Board of Supervisors has nothing to do with it, and
was setting a dangerous precedent when it consented in this
informal manner to share the responsibility with the Police Com-
mission. The Charter expressly fixes this responsibility with
the Commissioners, who are subject to removal by the Mayor
if their notions concerning the enforcement of the law conflict
with those of the public.
This brief statement of the relationship of the Mayor, the
Supervisors and the Administrative Boards is included here
chiefly for the purpose of facilitating an understanding of the
municipal government, but partly, too, as a suggestion for
needed charter reform. These faults are fundamental, for they
underlie the whole scheme of organization. As long as they
persist, a really efficient organization and a really efficient admin-
istration of public business will not be possible of attainment.
5CC//RCF6 of- ja/co/ve:
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The revenue sources of the City and County are shown in
the accompanying chart, as estimated for the fiscal year 1914-15.
The bulk of the city's income is from the general property
tax, and the greater portion of this, in turn, is paid by real
Miscellaneous revenues, whose relative importance is indicated
by the order in which they are set down, are (1) liquor licenses;
(2) state apportionment to schools; (3) county fees; (4) general
license taxes; (5) refund from the state on account of bonded
indebtedness; (6) rents; (7) state aid for minors; (8) franchise
percentages; (9) interest on public moneys; (10) fines, etc., etc.
The Trend of Taxes.
A study of revenues is included here for the purpose of show-
ing the changes that have taken place in the revenue scheme
within the period contemplated by this report (the past 15 years)
and more particularly since the beginning of the new era of
growth following the fire of 1906.
These facts demand the attention of every tax-payer.
Consider first the 15-year period beginning with the fiscal
year 1900-01, immediately after the present charter went into
Then as now the city was supported by the general property
tax, plus receipts from the state for the maintenance of schools,
and county fees, fines, rents, interest and the returns from license
In making the budget of that year, it was provided that the
revenue should be raised as follows:
Tax on real estate $2,982,600. or 53.0%
Tax on personal property 1,254,900. or 22.3%
Miscellaneous other sources 1,388,700. or 24.7%
Total $5,626,200. 100. %
Compare this distribution of the revenue burden with the
budget of the fiscal year 1914-15:
Tax on real estate $10,544,535. or 70.7%
Tax on personal property 1,610,500. or 10.8%
Miscellaneous other sources 2,761,430. or 18.5%
Total $14,916,465. 100. %
This comparison is presented to show how revenue conditions
have altered since the adoption of the present charter. The
chief point here is the gradual break-down of the personal prop-
erty tax, which is shown graphically in the accompanying chart.
In the fiscal year 1900-01, when local property paid state
taxes also (the "separation" plan under Constitutional amend-
ment No. 1 did not become effective until 191 1), personal prop-
erty paid 28.5 per cent of the total tax levy. In the last fiscal
year (1913-14) personal property paid but 12.3 per cent. Chart
IV. shows how the two branches of the general property tax
have operated in San Francisco during the last fifteen years.
Discounting all fluctuations in the assessed value of taxable
property in this period, the net change in fifteen years is as
1900. 1914. Per Cent Inc.
Real estate $288,530,645. $519,830,262. 80.16
Personal property 121,624,659. 127,274,272. 4.64
The Past Eight Years.
Consider now the revenue changes that have occurred in the
briefer period beginning with the fiscal year 1907-08, the figures
for which afford a better basis for comparison, for the follow-
1. The fiscal year 1907-08 was the first year of the emer-
gency tax levy in excess of the "dollar limit."
2. Saloon licenses had lately been raised, increasing the rev-
enues from sources other than taxation by more than $500,000
3. This period marks the beginning of San Francisco's new
growth as a city.
The expense budget for the year 1907-08 was as follows:
General fund $6,256,550.
Bond Interest, etc 594,700.
School fund 1,403,100.
Library fund 61,500.
Park fund 287,000.
Firemen's Pension fund 34,850.
The expense budget for the fiscal year 1914-15, as adopted by
the Board of Supervisors June 9, 1914, is as follows:
General fund $9,444,292.16
Bond Interest, etc 2,919,773.
School fund 1,980,200.
Library fund 97,000.
Park fund 375,200.
Firemen's Pension fund 100,000.
•Both operative and non-operative property included in the figures for
to /q*, iqex /<r»3 'f>~ /?<W 'Qet '9^7 '?»* 'r*r /*" f 1~ M,
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TAX RAIO fly LMia AND IMPROVEMENTS
TAX PAID 8/ PERGONAL PROPEBTy
In the following discussion, only the general fund is consid-
ered, for the reasons, (i) it is the fund from which current ex-
penses of government are paid, and into which come miscel-
laneous departmental revenues; (2) it alone furnishes a fair basis
The general fund for each year since July 1, 1907, and the
revenues upon which each budget was made, are shown in the
General fund R.E. Taxes
Percentages of increase in eight years:
General fund budget 50.95%
Real estate taxes 11 1.98%
Personal property taxes 2.93%
Revenue from other sources 14.87% decrease.
A graphic illustration of the revenues in this period is given
in Chart V. Practically, miscellaneous revenues and receipts
from the personal property tax in the general fund have not
increased in eight years, while real estate has contributed in
%, 000. 000
4. 000, 000
2, 000, 000
. „ .
/. 000. 000
Of /fof-/o /o/O'/t /fff-/2, /Q/Z-/3 "?'3-'+ 'f'+-'S
G£ A/ERA I. FUND BUOVET
/?£Ai- ESTATE: THXEZt
PEKIOa/au s>/?OPE/?Ty taxes — • —
In the report of former Assessor Washington Dodge to the
Mayor, dated August 4, 1911, the following recommendation is
"Let the endeavor be made to raise a larger part of
our City's revenue from sources other than direct taxa-
tion. Many of our American cities are readily collect-
ing in this way a much higher percentage of their total
revenue than is San Francisco. Such a course would
serve to relieve all tax-payers of a part of their bur-
Little in the way of a practical effort to act upon Dr. Dodge's
recommendation has been attempted. Occasionally one or an-
other of the Supervisors offers an ordinance proposing new
license taxes or changing old ones, but a comprehensive survey
of the whole revenue problem is still to be made.
Every real estate owner in San Francisco should insist upon
such an investigation without delay.
For each $54,000 that can be raised in other ways, one cent
is saved on the tax rate.
San Francisco's tax rate has reached a point where every
New York's Experience.
An example of what might be accomplished by a detailed
analysis and study of the revenue problem is contained in
the report of an advisory committee of citizens appointed for
this purpose by the Mayor of New York.*
This committee reported recommendations which, if carried
out, it was estimated would add immediately $4,000,000 to the
City's income, with an additional increment of more than
$1,000,000 a year.
Some of the questions raised by the New York report, an-
swers to which in their bearing on San Francisco would be of
immense value in building up "indirect" revenues, were:
1. What additional business taxes or licenses might be im-
2. Are the county fees too low? (or too high?)
3. Has the city unused and unneeded real estate which
should be sold?
4. Can a better method be found for disposing of unused
property belonging to the city?
5. Can a higher rate of interest be secured on deposits
through the separation of active checking accounts from inactive
6. Should not all revenues from every source, some of which
are now diverted to the several funds, be paid directly into the
treasury to the credit of the general fund, the requirements of
the special funds being met by direct budget appropriation?
♦Report of the Commission on New Sources of City Revenue. City of
New York, 1913.
One of the principal recommendations of the New York
Commission was the conference of broader licensing powers
upon the city, in order to make way for the extension of the
license system. The report reads:
"The City should be given the power to license all
businesses of such a character as to require inspection
and regulation and to fix the fee charged for such
licenses. In its certification to the public that his
business conduct conforms to a recognized minimum
standard of reliability, and that the moment he is found
wanting in the maintenance of this minimum standard,
he immediately forfeits his right to do business, the
license confers a distinct and an appreciable benefit upon
the licensee — the mere fact that he is in business tes-
tifies to his business integrity."*
It is specifically recommended that the license system be
extended to include those businesses engaged in the sale of
foodstuffs, which, in San Francisco as in New York, are sub-
ject to inspection and regulation by both the sealer of weights
and measures and the inspection service of the Health Depart-
The limitation contained in the San Francisco Charter (Note
i) does not affect the exercise of the police power. In a case
appealed from Los Angeles (Ex parte Montgomery, 125 Pac.
1070) the Supreme Court held that nothing in a municipal char-
ter could affect the constitutional grant made to a city, and
that under that grant a city is entitled to exercise the whole
police power of the state, so far as local regulations are con-
cerned, subject only to the control of general laws.
Even if the Charter were held to be a legal check upon the
licensing of markets, garages, lumber yards, house cleaning
agencies, cigar stores and other businesses, that document is
subject to amendment.
But without the grant of additional powers, the revenue from
licenses can be materially augmented through the readjustment
of rates on businesses already licensed.
Comparison with Los Angeles.
The city of Los Angeles, operating under the same general
tax laws and with substantially the same powers, enjoys an
income from business licenses (other than those on retail liquor
houses) double the income derived from the same source in
San Francisco. In 1913, Los Angeles collected $336,588 in busi-
♦Ibid, page 60.
Note 1. — Article II, Chapter II, Section 15, grants to the Supervisors the
power "to impose license taxes and to provide for the collection thereof;
but no license taxes shall be imposed upon any person who, at a fixed
place of business in the city and county, sells or manufactures goods, wares
or merchandise, except such as require permits from the Board of Police
Commissioners, as provided in thiy charter."
Elsewhere it is provided that liquor dealers, pawnbrokers, peddlers,
junkshop keepers, dealers in second-hand merchandise, auctioneers and
intelligence office keepers shall obtain such permits.
ness taxes. San Francisco's collections amounted to $i77,438. x
In the following table a comparison is made of some of the
ordinance license rates in the two cities:
TABLE V. 2
Los Angeles San Francisco.
Peddlers $60. $24.
Taxicabs 30. $1.50 to $5.
Junk dealers 60. 12.
Pawn-brokers 200. 124.
Wholesale liquor 1200. o
Fortune tellers 360. o
Undertakers 60. o
Wholesale bakeries 60. o
Laundries 60. 24. to 40.
By the adoption of rates similar to those in force in Los
Angeles, the revenue from business licenses (other than retail
liquor licenses) could be practically doubled.
It is worth remembering that:
1. For each $54,000 collected thus, one cent is saved on the
2. Every cent on the tax rate is a charge of $47,500 upon
3. Licenses at the Los Angeles rates would save the real
estate owners of San Francisco $150,000 a year.
In San Francisco there is no codification of license ordinances.
Many of them were passed years ago, under different con-
Many are not even printed, except on "proof-sheets."
No one is charged with the responsibility of studying the
question, as in St. Louis, where a Board of License Revision
works continuously to build up this important source of revenue.
Fines and Penalties.
Los Angeles collects more than two and one-half times as
much as San Francisco in fines and forfeited bail money. In
1913 there was paid into the treasury of the City of Los Angeles
$120,051 from this source, while San Francisco's receipts in the
same period amounted to but $47,318. (In addition to the city
receipts, Los Angeles County collected $74,822.) 3
This condition was called to the attention of the Supervisors
in a report of the late Bureau of Efficiency under date of June 7,
1913, in which a readjustment of the extreme penalties imposed
by San Francisco's ordinances was recommended. No action
was taken on this splendid report on how revenues could be
increased and how simultaneously the infamous "bail bond"
business could be ended. 4
Fees of County Offices.
Fees from the county offices in San Francisco have declined
steadily in total collections since 1908. The State Controller's
'Annual Report of State Controller on Financial Transactions, Califor-
nia Counties and Cities, 1913, page 52.
2 Rates by the year. Others in proportion.
'Ibid., page 22.
♦Bureau of Efficiency: Report on Penalties in Municipal Ordinances.
report for 1913 shows that the receipts of Los Angeles County
in that year were $365,941; of San Francisco, $253,481. (Page
A comprehensive study should be made of the fees charged,
to find whether changes should be made.
Interest on Public Money.
Receipts from interest on public money deposited in banks
have declined also in late years. In 1913 the City of Los
Angeles collected $84,020 in interest on its deposits; San Fran-
cisco collected $72,386.!
In San Francisco the charter provides that the rate of
interest shall be fixed annually by joint action of the Mayor,
Auditor and Treasurer. 2
The Charter provides also that the interest rate shall not
be less than two per cent, and in practice it is never more.
Other cities enjoy larger returns from their deposits by solicit-
ing competitive bids from the banks. In many places the rate
in three per cent and above in normal times.
It should also be possible to increase this income through
the separation of active and inactive accounts, as recommended
by the New York Commission on New Sources of City Revenue.
Charter amendment would be necessary before this could be done
in San Francisco.
Disposal of Unused Property.
Sales of unused personal property, defined usually as "junk,"
bring into the treasury about $12,000 annually.
Under the Charter 3
the Board of Supervisors is given the power "to pro-
vide for the sale at public auction, after advertising for
five days, of personal property unfit or unnecessary for
the use of the City and County."
In practice, the proposal to sell such property originates in
the department using it and not otherwise. Upon receiving a
recommendation that property be sold, the Supervisors authorize
the Mayor to proceed with the sale and the Mayor delegates
the task, sometimes to the Supplies Committee of the Board
and sometimes to a special appointee. Sales are made at fair
prices under this system.
The objection to it lies in the fact that there is no controlling
inventory of the city's property to show to a central authority
what goods and equipment are not needed.
Other cities have found it profitable to establish a steward-
ship over all city property, in the person of a central purchasing
agent, who by virtue of his position can best determine the
requirements of the departments and when to sell or transfer
'Annual Report of State Controller, 1913, page 22.
2 Artlcle IV, Chapter III, Section 2.
'Article II, Chapter II, Section 33.
unneeded property. He is also in a position to get the best
results at sales.
Such an authority is needed in the city government of San
Francisco, not alone to supervise the economical use of equip-
ment, but to maintain a strict accounting control over all of
the city's personal property.
At the present time, inventories are made by each depart-
ment once a year and submitted to the Clerk of the Board of
Supervisors, but they are not in comparable form from one
year to another and no use is made of them.
It is not possible to estimate the increased revenue that
might be obtained through changing the method of selling
unused property, but the experience of other cities leads to the
belief that the opportunity should not be overlooked, especially
inasmuch as no change in Charter or ordinance is required.
Miscellaneous Fund Revenue.
In addition to the amounts provided annually by tax levy
or otherwise in the general city budget, certain funds collect
and make use of revenues not included in the budget. The
most important of these are the Park Fund, Library Fund,
School Fund and Police Relief and Pension Fund, the last-
named being composed entirely of miscellaneous receipts.
There is no sound reason why the revenues of these branches
of the city government should not be measured by their ex-
pense, as in the case of the other departments. A proper budget
would estimate in detail the expense of each of these depart-
ments and provide for raising the exact amount and the payment
of it through, or from, the general fund. The present system
seems to be based on the theory that the departments are getting
something for nothing, when, as in the case of the Park Fund,
receipts from sales or the operation of the Beach Chalet give
the Park Commission $50,000 in addition to the appropriation
regularly provided in the budget.
To secure effective control, to make the fullest use of these
revenues and to guard against the temptation to extravagance,
all revenues should be paid directly into the general fund and
the departmental needs met by direct appropriation.
This is not an implication that the money is misused or that
it is not needed by the departments collecting it. It is a sug-
gestion looking to more intelligent budget-making, along with
conservation of the city's revenues.
The other existing sources of city revenue are not capable
of material expansion. The apportionment of state school
money is made on a fixed basis depending upon enrollment and
attendance; state aid for minors is limited by rules established
at Sacramento; franchise taxes depend upon the gross receipts
of the street railway companies; and building permits, of course,
depend upon the activity in the building trades. The sources
capable of development are as recited in this chapter.
The growing expense of government and the heavier burden
imposed upon real estate by the declining personal property tax
render more important than ever the problem of securing
Fundamentally, the assessment methods employed in San
Francisco (as in the state at large) are wrong for the reason
that property is not placed on the assessment roll at its "full
cash value," as required by law. 1
This view is held by taxation authorities without exception.
One of the leading tax experts of the country writes on the
"An equitable assessment cannot be made except at
full value, and unless the assessment is at full value the
individual taxpayer has no real protection against over-
One of the chief reasons urged in support of the Consti-
tutional Amendment which, in 1910, separated state and local
taxation in California was that
"the assessor can value the property at its full cash
value without . . . fearing either that his constitu-
ents would have to pay too much state tax or that the
State Board would discredit him by reducing his valu-
ation. That this would be conducive to greater equality
between individual taxpayers is obvious." 3
The report of the first State Commission on Revenue and
Taxation, published in 1906, discusses the advantages of assess-
ing at full value as follows: 4
"If there were no state tax . . . there would be
more inducements to the Assessor to assess the property
as nearly as possible at its full market value in order to
avoid inequalities between the citizens among his own
constituents, and to protect himself against the charge
of favoritism. The probability is, that in order to enjoy
the advertising effect of a low tax rate the general in-
clination would be for the assessor to raise the valuation
rather than reduce it. A high tax rate is a bad adver-
tisement for a city or a county."
Under-valuation is still practiced, however. According to the
Assessor's reports, the basis of valuation is 50 per cent in the case
'Section :?6ii7, Political Code.
: Edward L. Heydecker, Assistant Tax Commissioner, New York City.
3 Report of the California Commission on Revenue and Taxation, 1910,
4 Fagcs 62 and 63.
of real estate and improvements, varying to some extent according
to the earning capacity of the property.*
Among the leading American cities, New York, Philadelphia,
Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Cin-
cinnati have adopted the principle of assessments at full cash
value, and in all but two of these cities it is being carried out in
practice. The result is a lower tax rate as an inducement to
investors, equality as between individual taxpayers of all classes
and a beneficial stimulation of the public's interest in its own
What Undervaluation Means.
Undervaluation is the habitual cloak for tax abuses, real and
potential. No study has been made in connection with this
report of conditions prevailing in San Francisco, nor is a study
of local conditions needed to point the dangers of the present
system. The experience of other cites is sufficient proof.
A typical example is found in a report of the District of
Columbia Committee of the House of Representatives, which,
in 1912, investigated the assessment and taxation of real estate
in the district.f This committee reported that while the
theoretical basis of assessment was 66 2/3 per cent, land was
assessed at from 20 to 60 per cent of its true value, resulting
in gross inequalities as between individuals and sections.
As a result of its studies, the committee recommended first
of all that "real estate should be assessed at its full value,"
adding the comment that "with true value as the basis of assess-
ment, over-assessments and under-assessments are more appar-
ent and therefore more easily corrected." Further, it was
declared that a full value assessment is best for advertising pur-
poses and that the adoption of this practice would do away
with the work of computing percentages.
Under-valuation means more than a high tax rate, the dis-
couragement of investors and the possibility of gross injustices.
It means that the injustices, if they exist, are concealed and there
is no recourse for the victim.
A taxpayer who considers his house and lot worth $10,000
is not likely to protest an assessment of $7,000. If he went
before the Board of Supervisors sitting as a Board of Equaliza-
tion, he would be asked to tell under oath what he considered
his property to be worth, which statement might then be legally
used to increase, rather than equalize, his assessment.
Appeals to the Board of Equalization are few, under-valuation
creating in the mind of each taxpayer the impression that he is
escaping part of his just share. If property were assessed at
full value, there would be fewer tax dodgers and no over-assess-
*It is true that practically every county and city assessor in California
follows' the same practice of under-valuation in spite of the law. The
Special Report of the State Board of Equalization on the Relative Burden
of State and Local Taxes in 1912 (page 36) showed that the percentage of
assessed to true value in that year ranged from 25 to 52 per cent.
t62d Cong., 2d Session, House Report No. 1215.
The Assessor's Report.
Reference has been made already to the Assessor's report,
wherein figures are presented in an effort to show that San
Francisco pays lower taxes, comparatively, than most cities.
In order to arrive at this result, the Assessor assumes that a
comparable basis can be reached by dividing by two the assessed
valuations of cities that assess at full value, and multiplying
by two their tax rates. The effect of this simple application of
arithmetic is to show that San Francisco pays lower taxes than
any large city in the country.
The fallacy of this method of comparison should be evident,
for the following reasons:
1. It rests on the assumption that the basis of assessment
in San Francisco is actually 50 per cent, which, if true, makes
the true per capita wealth of San Francisco 62% per cent
greater than the per capita wealth of New York — the richest
large city in the United States.*
2. Tax laws of different localities exempt various kinds of
property, as in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, where there is no
direct tax on personal property. The exemption of one or more
classes of property naturally leaves the property remaining to
pay a higher rate, regardless of the basis of valuation.
The best comparison as between cities of similar size is
found in the absolute amounts of the tax levies. The following
table shows the tax levies of 1912 in cities with population be-
tween 400,000 and 600,000:
City. Population Tax levy. capita tax.
Cleveland 506,97o $10,019,807 $16.78
Baltimore 569,560 8,674,255 15.53
Pittsburgh 550,667 14,696,643 26.69
Detroit 503,443 9,677,557 19-22
Buffalo 439,666 9,126,133 21.45
San Francisco 433,488 10,463,701 24.14
Milwaukee 400,279 6,859,113 17.14
The above table is published only to disabuse the minds of that
portion of the public which has been led to believe the city escapes
lightly. The more intelligent view is that San Francisco is paying
a tax, regardless of the per cent basis of valuations, heavier than
is paid by many cities larger in wealth and population.
Another statement in the Assessor's published report for
1913-14 (page 8) is so striking as to demand attention. The
"A careful comparison of taxation in San Francisco
with other large cities will show that the tax rate is
lower than in most cities, and, notwithstanding the in-
creased expense of the city government due to our great
♦Census Report, Statistics of Cities, 1911. Table 34.
tBureau of the Census, Bulletin US: Financial Statistics of Cities,
loss by fire, increased bonded indebtedness, higher cost
of all supplies furnished the city, and allowance made
for additional appropriation to comply with the laws
passed by the State Legislature, by Charter Amend-
ments, exemption of property by amendments to the
State Constitution, and withdrawal of property taxed
exclusively for state purposes, it would show the cost
of city government to be less than it was in 1900, the
year the Charter went into effect."
A broad statement deserves to be answered with facts, and
these are supplied in the following brief summary:
1900 1914 % Increase.
Budget $5,626,200 $14,916,465 165.17
Population 342,782 448,200 30.75
Per capita cost. $16.41 $33.28 102.80
The Burden on Real Estate.
If it is true, as represented in the Assessor's reports, that the
assessed value of real estate in San Francisco is only 50 per cent
of true value, this city occupies a unique positon: its per capita
wealth in this form of property is almost double that of the
average American city of comparable size, and 33 per cent higher
even than New York City.
Are there conditions peculiar to San Francisco which make
real estate (the term including both land and improvements) so
valuable, or is not the assessed valuation actually higher than
50 per cent? The following table, compiled from the most recent
census reports, shows the assessed value, actual value and per
capita value of real estate in the leading American cities:
City. Assessed value. Basis. True value. Value.
New York $7,861,898,890 100% $7,861,898,890 $1,552
Chicago 670,652,219 25% 2,682,608,876 1,169
Philadelphia .... 1,554,302,400 100% 1,554,302,400 968
St. Louis 441,854,410 60% 736,424,000 1,034
Boston 1,186,491,200 100% 1,186,491,200 1,668
Cleveland 518,552,210 100% 518,552,210 869
Baltimore 372,651,502 100% 372,651,502 654
Pittsburgh 749,583,440 95% 787,062,612 1,428
Detroit 316,630,290 75% 422,093,720 839
Buffalo 318,552,250 75% 424,749,664 965
San Francisco . . . 447,777> 2 37 50% 895,554,474 2,066
Milwaukee 368,664,865 90% 405,531,351 1,014
Cincinnati 375,065,680 100% 375,065,680 968
Average (excluding San Francisco) 1,094
San Francisco above the average 90%
It is not density of population which makes the per capita
value of real estate so high in San Francisco. The following
table, compiled from the same reports as the preceding table,
shows for the leading American cities the population per acre
of land (water area excluded) :
*Ibid, Table I, pages 19 and 20.
City. in acres. Population. Per acre.
New York 1 83,555 5,064,237 28
Chicago 118,232 2,294,711 19
Philadelphia 83,340 1,606,102 19
St. Louis 39,ioo 712,027 18
Boston 27,612 711,128 26
Cleveland 29,299 596,970 20
Baltimore 19,290 569,560 29
Pittsburgh 24,871 550,667 22
Detroit 26,102 503,445 19
Buffalo 24,894 439,666 18
San Francisco 29,760 433,488 14.5
Milwaukee 15.283 400,279 26
As compared with other cities on the Pacific Coast, San Fran-
cisco still leads in per capita real estate values (if the Assessor's
basis of valuation is correct) as shown by the following table:
City. Assessed value. Basis. True value. Value.
San Francisco... $447,777,237 50% $895,554,474 $2,066
Los Angeles .... 282,162,366 50% 564,324,732 1,462
Oakland 104,031,900 50% 208,063,800 1,243
Seattle 176,975,528 45% 392,278,960 1,414
Portland 226,792,520 60% 377,987,530 1,612
Both Table VII and Table IX leave out of account the real
estate owned by corporations taxed for state purposes and desig-
nated on the assessment roll as "operative property," which real
estate in San Francisco amounts to more than $45,000,000 at 50
per cent, or to more than $91,000,000 when brought to full value.
Inasmuch as similar property is carried on the local assessment
rolls in practically all of the Eastern cities named in Table VII,
it would be proper to add this amount to the roll making a com-
parison, thus bringing the per capita value of San Francisco real
estate to $2,277, or 108 per cent above the average for the other,
twelve largest cities.
It is a question for the real estate experts of the city to
answer: Are these values supported by the business and
salaries of the community, or are they, after all, fictitious except
for taxation purposes?
The most important function of a city government is its
use of the taxing power to raise funds for the purpose of its
several departments. In San Francisco the sums raised annually
by general taxation for municipal purposes amount to more than
What is a Budget?
In theory: A carefully prepared financial program for meet-
ing all necessary requirements of the public service, with those
requirements set down in such a way that the public may know
what kinds of work are planned and how much of each kind.
In practice: A grab-bag for departments, officials and im-
provement clubs; a series of detached, unrelated requests from
bureaus, offices and the public, often purposely inflated; not
properly summarized or intelligently considered because of patch-
work classification and catch-all items.
The San Francisco Budget.
Viewed in the light of the best modern practice as already
adopted by the leading American cities, San Francisco's budget-
making methods are inexact, unscientific and ten years behind the
times. They would ruin a private business.
Part of the fault is due to lack of proper accounting and
reporting; part is due to the absence of inventory and stores
records, and part to the rule o' thumb practices that have pre-
vented the installation of uniform departmental estimate sheets.
It is inconceivable how, under the present system, the Board
of Supervisors can intelligently make appropriations and fix tax
Evidence to support the departmental requests, such as unit
costs of work or services and the number of units neces-
sary for the coming year, is almost entirely lacking. There is
no classification by objects of expenditure, such as would show
how much for operating expense, how much for maintenance,
how much for permanent improvements, etc. Instead there is
a segregation based on no clear plan and which is meaningless
to the public, while affording no protection against extravagance.
As a work program, in which a fixed and definite amount
of service is promised to the tax-payers at a fixed and definite
cost (and promised in such a way that the promise can be
checked against fulfillment) the San Francisco budget is prac-
tically worthless. It means little to the Supervisors who approve
it and nothing to the tax-payers who stand the cost.
Of fundamental importance in the administration of public
funds is the careful and scientific use of the taxing power. To
this end, the law provides that before the tax levy is made there
shall be prepared a list of financial needs, or an expense budget,
in order that the taxing authority may raise the proper amount
and no more.
The more accurate and detailed are the estimates, the more
exact and proper will be the amount of the tax levy. This would
appear to be of first importance.
In practice, however, the budget is compiled on the basis of
memoranda submitted by the several departments and offices to
the Finance Committee of the Board of Supervisors, giving
usually only a list of the salaried positions heretofore included
in the budget and a lump sum for estimated expense. Uniform
estimate sheets, such as are used in most cities of the size of
San Francisco or larger, are not provided.
It is known to be the common practice of the department
heads to pad their estimates as much as possible in anticipation
of a horizontal cut by the Finance Committee. Rule o' thumb
methods lead inevitably to such a practice.
Draft of Tentative Budget:
The Finance Committee is satisfied to write into the annual
budget, involving the expenditure of more than $15,000,000, its
unsupported judgment without demanding evidence to back up
its opinions, and the Board of Supervisors is satisfied in the
main to accept the result. It is true that a sound and careful
Committee can keep down expenditures in this manner and so
justify its practice, but if it were composed of less conscientious
men, or of men who did not possess the same native ability to
estimate shrewdly, the result would be altogether different.
Regardless of the personnel of this Committee, however, it
must be granted that whenever fact-standards can be used in
place of opinion-standards, whether in public or private business,
better results are certain to be achieved.
It follows that any method which provides a foundation of
evidence in so important a business as budget-making should be
adopted. It not only would insure the beneficial co-operation
of the heads of departments and protect the Finance Committee
against accusations of unfair discrimination and extravagance,
but it would show the public exactly what is planned to do with
the money and thus stimulate interest in civic affairs.
Work Planned Ahead:
A properly prepared budget would mean that the head of
every department had applied himself to the task of systemati-
cally planning his next year's work as accurately as it is pos-
sible for him to forecast it. What this would mean in the city
service can only be conjectured. It has been found to be a
highly satisfactory stimulus to efficiency and economy in other
Elements of a Proper Budget:
The main elements of a proper, understandable expense budget
can be stated simply:
i. There should be available to the budget-making body (here
the Finance Committee) a complete workable inventory
of city property, including lands, equipment, stores, etc.,
and in addition thereto, complete and comparable reports
from each operating department showing the unit costs
of work performed.
2. Preparation of careful estimates by department heads on
uniform blanks, the estimates segregated by function
and showing unit costs wherever possible, with compari-
sons with previous years.
3. Independent inspection by the Finance Committee of the
estimates, resulting finally in a decision as to the num-
ber of units of each kind of work that will be needed
for the ensuing year.
4. Classification by the Finance Committee of all budget
items under the four headings of Administration, Opera-
tion, Maintenance and Capital Outlay, showing each
group as follows:
Administration expense In full detail.
Operating expense By functions, on the
Maintenance expense By objects, with labor
and material in detail.
Capital outlay In full detail, to show
the bona fide exten-
sions of the municipal
estate planned for the
coming year out of
5. Publication of a tentative draft of the budget in under-
standable form, as above.
6. Public hearings before the entire Board of Supervisors,
wherein the issues would be strictly joined on such ques-
tions as the number of units of service or the advisa-
bility of this or that capital expenditure.
7. Adoption of the budget and the tax levy.
Charter Permits This Plan:
No amendment of the Charter would be necessary to install
the budget methods outlined above. An order by the Finance
Committee alone would be sufficient, for the Charter (Article III,
Chapter I, Section 3) states that
"the budget shall be prepared in such detail as to the
aggregate sum and the items thereof allowed to each de-
partment, office, board or commission, as the Supervisors
shall deem advisable. Before finally determining upon
the budget, the Supervisors shall fix such sufficient time
or times as may be necessary to allow the tax-payers to
be heard in regard thereto, and the Supervisors shall
attend at the time or times so appointed for such
It would be necessary to revise the accounting methods in
most of the departments in order to produce the necessary in-
formation, but this revision is in the power of the Board of
Supervisors (Article II, Chapter II, Section I, subdivisions 40
Purposes of Classification:
A properly classified budget goes further than plan the next
year's work, stimulate officials, minimize extravagance and en-
lighten the public; it affords the only possible guide for the in-
telligent direction of public business as a whole.
Year by year the budget has grown and will continue to grow,
and with it the tax-rate goes up steadily. Without an elaborate
analysis of expenditures by expert accountants, the experience
of the past is practically lost to the budget-making authorities
and the administrators of the present.
Is there a definite relation between Administration Expense
and increased population? Between operating costs and popula-
tion? Between the expense of maintaining public properties and
population? What are these relations? How can they be proved?
Questions of this kind do not enter into the making of an
unclassified budget, but for each year's increase in expenditures
the explanation is always made that "growth of population means
Increased population does not affect all of the city's functions.
It affects some of them more than it does others. It is reason-
able to assume that under a classified, functionalized budget there
would be developed in practice within two or three years certain
definite rates of increase in the several operating departments,
which rates would be an invaluable guide in the making of future
Roughly, the expense under the four headings of Administra-
tion, Operation, Maintenance and Capital Outlay should advance
approximately as follows:
Administration expense Very slowly, if at all.
Operating expense According to the defi-
nite number of units
of work or service.
Maintenance expense Depending upon the
increase in the num-
ber of new properties
to be maintained.
Capital outlays AS THE CITY CAN
To a large extent, the annual increases under the first three
headings would come to be governed by fixed laws depending
more or less upon growth in population. The amount needed
for capital outlays, including permanent improvements of all
kinds, equipment, machinery, etc., could be made to depend upon
the state of business and industry as a whole; in times of pros-
perity, when the tax rate is a comparatively small factor, ex-
tensive outlays would be possible; in times of depression, the
city could retrench intelligently.
Application of Unit Costs:
Practically one-half of the general fund budget, authorizing
the expenditure of nearly $4,300,000, is composed of unsegre-
gated, unclassified items in amounts arbitrarily fixed by the
Finance Committee. Many of these appropriations cover in
single items the expense of administration, operation, mainte-
nance and capital outlay, although with few exceptions they could
be broken up and distributed under the proper headings.
In this list are the following items (as copied directly from
the budget for the fiscal year 1914-15):
Number Purpose Amount
17. Finance Committee Expenses $10,000.
18. Supplies Committee Expenses 3,000.
19. Printing Public Documents, etc 23,000.
20. Advertising 31,500.
24. Stationery, Books and Printing, etc 45,ooo.
25. Stationery for the Assessor 5, 500.
26. Maps for Tax Collector and Assessor 8,000
28. Furniture, Public Buildings 9,000.
34. Urgent Necessities 90,000.
35. Rents, Repair and Equipment of Buildings 76,500.
36. Water for Municipal purposes, hydrants 132,000.
37. Water for Buildings 23,000.
38. Maintenance of Minors 1 78,000.
39. Maintenance of Widows' Pension Bureau 107,000.
44. Lighting of Streets and Public Buildings 465,000.
45. Purchase of Rights of Way 15,000.
47. Gasoline for City Automobiles 2,500.
58. For Paving, Repaving, Grading, Constructing and
Repairs to Streets, for Construction of, Recon-
struction of and Repairs to Sewers, and for
Construction of and Repairs to Public Build-
ings and other structures except school build-
ings and including the following items: (speci-
fied items aggregating only $67,500) 1,150,000.
59. For Reconstruction and Equipment of Fire De-
partment Buildings 95,000.
61. For the Construction, Reconstruction, Fire Es-
capes, Repairs to and Equipment of School De-
partment Buildings 194,000.
65. For the Expense, Maintenance and Cleaning,
Sprinkling and Sweeping of Streets 360,000.
66. Accident Insurance, City Employes 60,000.
88. Auditor — Extending Assessment Roll 5,ooo.
95- Assessor — Extra Clerks, Charter 40,000.
96. Assessor — Extra Clerks, Additional . 6,000.
97. Assessor — Poll Tax Collectors 5,ooo.
98. Assessor — Field Deputies' Expenses 2,000.
113. Coroner — Coroner's Expenses 2,500.
120. Recorded — Copyists 40,000.
133. Tax Collector — Extra Clerks 6,220.
162. City Attorney — For General Litigation 6,000.
176. District Attorney — For extraordinary expenses of
the District Attorney's office, subject to orders
of Court through the Board of Supervisors.... 6,000.
206. Juvenile Detention Home, Maintenance 8,600.
246. Sheriff — Subsistence of Prisoners 45,ooo.
247. Sheriff — Sheriff's Expenses 2,560.
274. Police Department — Maintenance of Police Patrol
and Mounted Police 28,600.
275. Police Department — Police Miscellaneous — Pho-
tographic Supplies, Laundry, Fuel, etc 3,ooo.
276. Police Department — Maintenance of Automobiles
and Patrol Wagons 8,000.
277. Police Department — Subsistence of Prisoners 8,000.
278. Police Department — Maintenance of Motorcycles. 2,500.
278b. Police Department — Maintenance Police Launch. 1,500.
282. Civil Service Commission — Expenses 12,500.
283. Civil Service Commission — Inspection 5>ooo.
284. Playgrounds Commission — (Paragraph specifies
the several approved playgrounds) For Sal-
aries and Administration 36,075.
285. Playground Commission — Equipment, Mainte-
nance and Improvement 30,000.
360. Board of Public Works — For inspection of streets
and sewers under contract 18,600.
388. Board of Public Works — Maintenance Municipal
Water Works 2,700.
389. B. P. W. — Transportation, Buggies or Auto Ren-
391. B. P. W. — Automobile Maintenance 2,500.
392. B. P. W. — Supplies ' and Maintenance, including
Janitors' supplies, fuel oil, electric power, en-
gineer's sundries, lamps, etc., Repair and up-
keep of Elevators and Engines 13.000.
393. B. P. W. — General Supplies 2,500.
394. B. P. W. — Bureau of Engineering Supplies 5- 000 -
395. B. P. W. — Maintenance and Supplies Photostat
396. B. P. W. — Fuel Oil and Maintenance, Garbage
Disposal Plant 5.000.
415. Health Department — Expenses 13.000.
476 — San Francisco Hospital — Maintenance 85,000.
477 San Francisco Hospital — For additional expenses
for maintaining new Hospital if opened dur-
ing fiscal year 20,000.
501. Tubercular Hospital — Maintenance 51,000.
513. Isolation Hospital — Maintenance 13, 74°-
525. Emergency Hospitals — Maintenance 14.850.
561. Relief Home — Maintenance 136,000.
621 Fire Department — Maintenance 170,000.
622. Fire Department — For purchase of Fire Fight-
ing Apparatus and Hose 80,000.
649. Department of Electricity — Maintenance, Exten-
sions and Equipment 35>ooo.
650. Department of Elections — General Elections 221,000.
Salary Itemization in Budget:
A large part of the personal service regularly paid for out
of the general fund is itemized in the present budget, but there
is absolutely nothing to show, in any operating department,
how the salary expense is related to the amount of work planned.
Originally, the itemization of salaries was made to prevent
the padding of pay-rolls. There has grown out of it, however,
a new abuse which is reflected in the attitude of several mem-
bers of the Board of Supervisors who object to the creation
of "budget positions," as they are called when so itemized,
because of the difficulty in abolishing them when the need is
at an end. The holders of such positions bring the influence
of their friends to bear upon the members of the Board, and
it has been found practically impossible to vote out positions
so designated in the budget.
There has grown up, therefore, the practice of paying for
personal service out of money appropriated under the heading
Thus, for example, two assistant superintendents in the
street repair department are paid $1,800 a year each from
Budget Item Number 58. Many other regular employes in the
bureaus of streets, buildings and sewer repairs are also paid
from this blanket item. For some reason, not explainable by
charter or ordinance, they are not designated in the budget,
while certain of their fellow employes are so designated.
As an example of the practical difficulty of abolishing a
budget position attention may be directed to the six road guards
at the County Jail (Budget Item Number 237). Several attempts
to abolish these positions have been made by the Finance Com-
mittee, on the ground that they are not needed, but without
In the 1914-15 budget, individual itemized salaries amount
to the following totals in the several divisions of the city gov-
Board of Supervisors and Clerks $86,160.
Mayor's Office 17,520.
Auditor's Office 33,820.
Assessor's Office 48,200.
Coroner's Office 23,980.
Recorder's Office 31,600.
Tax Collector's Office 61,080.
Treasurer's Office 27,100.
Superior Courts 81,320.
City Attorney's Office 36,200.
District Attorney's Office 58,700.
County Clerk's Office 107,800.
Justices' Courts 28,800.
San Francisco Law Library 4,800.
Juvenile Detention Home 7,680.
Juvenile Court 27,900.
Widows' Pension Bureau 5,040.
Sheriff's Office and Jails 102,200.
Police Department 1,474,828.
Police Courts 24,000.
Civil Service Commission 3,600.
Board of Censorship 600.
Sealer of Weights and Measures 9,600.
Board of Public Works 365,400.
Health Department —
General Office 25,620.
Inspection Bureau 85,260.
San Francisco Hospital 61,344.
Tubercular Hospital 23,840.
Isolation Hospital 16,164.
Emergency Hospitals 75,372.
Relief Home 49,920.
Fire Department 1,263,325.
Corporation Yard 90,732.
Fire Department additional 35,66i.
Department of Electricity 75,246.
The itemized list is by no means inclusive of all regular sal-
aried positions in the city service, paid from the general fund.
The budget items that are in part, at least, lumped pay-rolls
are as follows:
Number Appropriation Amount.
17. Finance Committee Expenses $ 10,000
18. Supplies Committee Expenses 3, 000.
58. Repairs streets, buildings, sewers, etc 1,150,000.
59. Reconstruction Fire Dept. buildings 95,000.
61. Repairs, equipment, etc., School buildings 194,000.
65. Sweeping streets, etc 360,000.
97. Assessor — Poll tax collectors 5,ooo
120. Recorder — Copyists 40,000.
162. City Attorney — General Litigation 6,000.
176. District Attorney — Extraordinary expense 6,000.
246. Sheriff — Subsistence of Prisoners 45,000.
282. Civil Service Commission — Expenses 12,300.
283. Civil Service Commission — Inspection 5.000.
284. Playgrounds Commission — Administration 36,075.
285. Playgrounds Commission — Equipment, etc 30,000.
388. Maintenance Municipal Water Works 2,700.
649. Department of Electricity 3 5. 000.
650. Department of Elections 221,000.
Functional Segregation Possible.
The Departments or branches of the city government which
could and should segregate their items of expense under the
headings of administration, operation, maintenance and capital
outlay are the following:
Board of Works.
Sheriff's Department, including jails.
Department of Electricity.
Department of Elections.
Juvenile Detention Home.
Widows' Pension Bureau.
The Departments that should ask and receive appropriations
on a strict unit cost basis, provable by accurate records and
statistics are the following:
1. Health Department:
(a) Each kind of inspection service.
(b) Each hospital.
2. Juvenile Detention Home.
4. Fire Department:
(a) Repair of apparatus.
(b) Maintenance of engine houses.
5. Board of Public Works:
(a) Street construction and repairs.
(b) Street cleaning.
(c) Building repairs and maintenance.
(d) Sewer construction and repairs.
(e) Building Inspection.
(f) Garbage disposal plant.
6. School Department:
(a) Maintenance of Buildings.
7. Park Department.
8. Police Department:
(a) Kinds of service rendered.
(b) Maintenance of stations.
(c) City jail.
ANALYSIS OF SAN FRANCISCO BUDGET OF 1913-14.
In its broadest aspect, the budget simply apportions to the
several continuing funds into which the city's finances are
divided by law the revenues of the year. These funds are:
The bond interest and redemption funds.
Firemen's Relief and Pension fund.
The Special Funds.
With respect to all but the general fund, there is a similar-
ity which permits them to be grouped for purposes of explana-
tion. The special funds are each
(a) supported by direct tax levy for specific purposes;
(b) under the absolute control of independent commissions;
(c) subject to charter regulation as to amount, leaving the
Supervisors to exercise their judgment within narrow
(d) continuous, i. e., retain their identity from year to year.
In framing the budget, the Supervisors make no attempt to
segregate these funds, except in the case of the School Fund,
where only a nominal segregation is made, subject to amend-
ment by the independent Board of * Education. The special
funds in the 1913-14 budget were as follows:
Bond Interest and Redemption Funds $2,732,538.
School Fund 1,868,280.
Park Fund 366, 100.
Library Fund 95,000.
Firemen's Relief and Pension Fund 85,000.
Total special fund $5,146,918.
or 36 per cent of the total budget.
The General Fund.
The variable expenses of the city government are met from
the general fund, where the principles of right budget-making
could be applied in planning the expenditure of more than
$9,000,000 annually. The budget not only apportions revenues
to the general fund, but it appropriates the money from this
fund for specific purposes, and serves as an authorization for
the administrative officers to spend.
To the extent, therefore, that the budget is to check the
inefficient or incompetent officer, and at the same time not
interfere with the capable department manager, it should specify
or appropriate exact amounts based on a knowledge of exact
needs. If it is to function as a work program, in which a defi-
nite amount of measurable service or other value is promised at
a definite cost, it is necessary to relate the proposed expendi-
tures, whether for salaries, wages, supplies or materials, to the
amount of work that is to be done. This is called the principle
of "functional segregation," and is widely different from the
departmental segregation on which the San Francisco budget is
Bases of Appropriations.
In the San Francisco budget, it is the accepted practice to
allow a certain amount to each office, department and institu-
tion, which amount is usually broken up into an itemized salary
list and a "lump sum" for "maintenance," meaning thereby all
supplies, materials, equipment and wages not otherwise expressly
provided for. The salaries fixed by the Charter, or which the
Supervisors control by ordinance, are itemized in the budget;
salaries controlled by the administrative departments sometimes
are itemized, as in the Health Department and the Department
of Public Works, and sometimes not, as in the Playgrounds De-
partment. In 1913-14, the Board of Public Works chose to
abide by the itemization imposed by the Supervisors; the Board
of Health did not.
Some services have been centralized and are paid for out of
single appropriations, such as the furnishing of all light and
water, stationery, etc., the payment of rent for those departments
occupying rented quarters, and (theoretically) all repairs to
buildings. Certain other appropriations are required to be made
by Charter or state law.
From the nature of the considerations governing the making
of the appropriations, the items composing the 1913-14 budget
may be grouped under the following eight headings:
(A) Appropriations to departments that have full and undis-
puted control over expenditures, subject only to Char-
ter and state law.
(B) Appropriations for salaries and wages (itemized) in mu-
nicipal departments, where control by administrative
boards is sometimes disputed.
(C) Appropriations in "lump sums" for general supplies, sub-
sistence, equipment and maintenance in municipal de-
partments, including jails.
(D) Appropriations for county offices, including itemized sal-
aries as fixed by Charter and ordinance, and unsegre-
gated incidental expense accounts.
(E) Appropriations for specified articles of equipment.
(F) Appropriations in "lump sums" for centralized service
controlled by the Board of Supervisors.
(G) Appropriations for specific permanent improvements and
other definite purposes outside of the usual routine.
(H) Appropriations for miscellaneous routine expenses re-
quired to be made by Charter, state law, custom or
In the following discussion of the several classes of appro-
priations, some notes have been set down which tend to explain
the underlying causes of the increasing expense of the city
government. Each class will be considered separately:
In this class there is only the Department of Elections, which
in 1913-14 received $275,000 in a lump sum. Expenditures are
regulated by Charter and state law. As showing the inaccuracy
of this estimate, there was a credit balance in this appropria-
tion at the end of the year amounting to more than $44,000,
which was re-appropriated by the Supervisors before it could
revert to the "Surplus Fund" and become applicable to the reduc-
tion of taxes.
Itemized salaries and wages in the following total amounts
were appropriated to the municipal departments named, but with
no division showing to what extent they were a part of the
city's expense of administration as distinct from the expense of
operation, or maintenance as distinct from either of these; also,
in framing the schedule, little attention was given to the amount
of work to be performed, as will be shown hereafter. The total
salary rolls follow:
Police Department $1,455,520.
Fire Department 1,343,038.
Department of Public Works 371,600.
Health Department 344,264.
Department of Electricity 73,146.
Playgrounds Department* 36,075.
Civil Service Commissioners 3,600.
Board of Censorship 600.
Salaries of policemen and firemen and of the members of the
Civil Service Commission are fixed by the Charter; the salaries
of other employes in these departments and in the Department
of Electricity are fixed by ordinance.
In the Board of Public Works, only the salaries of the
Commissioners and their Secretary are fixed by Charter, the
Board itself having the technical right to create positions and
fix the compensation thereof, but by agreement it accepts the
budget salaries established by the Supervisors. The Board of
Health, which is in virtually the same position, ignored the
budget itemization in 1913-14. All salaries in the Department of
Electricity are fixed by ordinance once a year and arc therefore
controlled absolutely by the Supervisors. The Playgrounds Com-
mission creates positions and salaries at will within the limits
of its appropriation.
Making up the salary budget for the police department con-
sists largely in guessing at the number of additional policemen
to be included at $1,464 a year (the highest police salary paid
by any city in the United States). No inquiry is made into the
assignment of the members of the force, and consequently
it is found (see Departmental Survey of Police contained
herein) that a surprising number of patrolmen at $1,464 a year
are detailed for inside office work, or as guards at the city
jail or as general messengers in various municipal depart-
ments, where their duties are such that they could be performed
as well, or perhaps better, by employes who would not need to
meet the relatively high requirements of regular members of the
Thus, for example, five patrolmen serve as clerks in the
property and evidence bureau, seven serve as clerks in the
general administrative office, six serve as clerks in the bureau
of warrants and licenses, two in the business office, six in the
identification bureau and three are "photographers" in the pho-
tograph gallery. In the city prison, thirteen patrolmen act as
guards with salaries of $1,464 each, when guards at the county
jail are paid but $600, or considerably less than half. Thirty-
two patrolmen and one corporal are detailed to municipal de-
partments, where some of them have serious work to perform,
while most of them are simply messengers or guards.
In view of the fact that San Francisco pays the highest police
salaries and provides liberally for old age and relief pensions,
civilian clerks, messengers and watchmen at lower wages should
be employed for this work. The budget-makers could provide
for this change and effect a saving of thousands of dollars
Department of Public Works.
The salary expense of this department illustrates vividly the
result of failing to segregate the items of administration, opera-
tion and maintenance at budget-making time, which leads inevi-
tably to the gradual, and perhaps unrealized, advance in "over-
head" salaries. New positions have been created and salaries
increased — usually without reference to the amount of operating
or maintenance service that is to be rendered that might call
for additional administrative service.
Thus the itemized salary expense of the Board of Public
Works and its Bureaus (exclusive of new functions added since
1910) grew from $233,580 in the budget of 1909-10 to $357,400 in
the budget of 1914-15 — an advance of more than 50 per cent in
These totals do not include the clerks, stenographers, engi-
neers, architects, draftsmen, inspectors, watchmen and other
employes who are paid from bond funds and whose work is
related to specific permanent improvements which the city is
The totals do not include, either, many positions which, while
of a permanent nature, are not itemized in the budget but are
paid from blanket "repair" accounts. These positions are mostly-
additional bureau superintendents, assistants, clerks and watch-
men added in the last three or four years. According to the
Auditor's report for 1909-10, the total expense of these extra-
budgetary positions in that year was $19,739. On the basis of
the June, 1914, payroll, the expense of the same class of posi-
tions had risen to $47,610 in 1913-14, an advance of 140 per cent.
Bureau of Street Repair.
Without an exhaustive analysis of the accounts of the Board
of Public Works and its bureaus, it would be impossible to seg-
regate the salary items so as to show separately the expense of
administration, or "overhead," and the salaries or positions prop-
erly chargeable to operation or maintenance. In some of the
Bureaus, a more or less complete segregation can be made, as
in the Bureau of Street Repair, where, according to the Auditor's
report for 1909-10, the total salary expense for the superintend-
ent, his assistants, clerks, stenographers, time-keepers and watch-
men (all salaries except wages of labor) was $15,625. In 1913-14,
the total comparable salaries had risen to $26,088. In place of
one Superintendent at $2,400 a year and one assistant at $1,800,
there had come to be one superintendent at $3,000, one assistant
at $2,400 and two assistants at $1,800, together with a Team Fore-
man at $1,800, a Superintendent of Stone Paving at $2,100 and
a Foreman Paver at $2,100. The expense of watchmen in
1909-10 was $1,260. In 1913-14 (on the basis of the June pay-
roll) it had risen to half this sum, or $630, a month, amounting
to $7,560 a year.
Bureau of Buildings.
Another example of the growing salary expense of the Board
of Public Works, illustrating the need of framing the budget
with a view to the amount of work that is to be done, is found
in a comparison of the salary expense of the Bureau of Build-
ing Inspection for the fiscal year 1909-10 and the fiscal year
It is the function of this Bureau to examine and pass upon
all plans and specifications for buildings for which construction
permits are asked, and to inspect the buildings during construc-
tion to see that the laws are complied with. A fee is collected
which varies with the value of the building, and the total of
fees, therefore, affords a reasonable measure of the Bureau's
The period following the fire was one of great activity and
the fees collected in 1908-09 amounted to more than $51,000.
On this basis, the makers of the 1909-10 budget provided $25,500
for the salary expense of the Bureau, of which $22,928 was spent.
(Fees collected during the year had fallen to $37,000.)
Since 1910, the collection of fees and, of course, building
activity, have decreased steadily, yet the salary expense of the
Bureau of Building Inspection has increased. Last year (1913-14)
the salary expense of this Bureau was $30,900, while the fees
collected amounted to less than $26,000. The estimated fees for
1914-15 amount to $24,000, although the salary list of last year
was carried forward into the budget of the present fiscal year
without a change.
Showing the comparison in another way: In 1909-10, the
salary expense of the Bureau of Building Inspection came to
61 per cent of the fees collected; in 1913-14, it came to 120 per
cent of the fees.
Bureau of Street Cleaning.
Finally, a third example of growing overhead expense in the
Board of Public Works is set down: the salary expense of the
Bureau of Street Cleaning.
Each year there is appropriated a lump sum covering the
total expense of this Bureau, out of which all salaries, wages and
supply, material and equipment accounts are paid. In 1909-10,
the total expense of cleaning and sweeping streets was $263,069,
of which $4,125 was "overhead," including the salaries of the
superintendent, timekeeper and watchman. In 1913-14, $350,000
was spent, of which $18,180 was "overhead." Thus, while total
expenditures increased 33 per cent, the overhead expense in-
creased 340 per cent.
That the systematic padding of payrolls could be carried on
if the objects of the several appropriations were considered prop-
erly at budget-making time is not believable. It is possible only
when salaries of all kinds are lumped together indiscriminately,
without regard to the amount of work to be done.
At the close of the last fiscal year, there were salary bal-
ances with nothing to offset them in the police, fire, electricity
and public works departments amounting in the aggregate to
$75,000. (Salary balances in the Department of Public Works
were the result of appropriating $22,820 to run the Garbage
Disposal plant, which was never accepted, and the unused por-
tion of a lump-sum appropriation of $18,600 for the inspection
of streets and sewers under contract.) Instead of being used
to reduce taxes, this $75,000 also was "re-appropriated" for other
purposes, as will be shown hereafter.
Blanket "Maintenance" appropriations were made in the fol-
lowing amounts to municipal departments and institutions, in-
Health Department "expenses" $12,500.
Sheriff "subsistence of prisoners" 45,000.
Juvenile Detention Home "maintenance" 8,000.
Main Hospital "maintenance" 78,000.
Relief Home "maintenance" 129,000.
Tuberculosis Hospital "maintenance" 46,000.
Isolation Hospital "maintenance" 14,000.
Emergency Hospital "maintenance" 13,500.
Fire Department "maintenance" 160,000.
Fire Dept. "purchase of apparatus and hose" 100,000.
Playgrounds "equipment, maintenance and improvement" 30,000.
The supply and maintenance appropriations for the Police,
Electricity and Public Works departments are broken up into
several items, as follows:
Dept. of Electricity:
"Extensions and Equipment" $15,000.
"Maintenance of Police Patrol and Mounted Police" 30,000.
"Maintenance of Automobiles and Patrol Wagons".. 8,000.
"Maintenance of Motorcycles" 2,500.
"Maintenance of Police Launch" 1,500.
"Subsistence of Prisoners" 8,000.
"Police Miscellaneous" 3,000.
Department of Public Works:
"Supplies and Maintenance" (janitorial) 12,000.
"Transportation, Buggies" 11,880.
"Car Fare" 2,000.
"Transportation, Autos" 3,000.
"Bureau of Engineering Supplies" 5,000.
"Maintenance and Supplies, Photostat Room" 2,500.
"Maintenance Garbage Disposal Plant" 5,000.
"Maintenance Municipal Water Works" 2,700.
"General Supplies" 2,500.
GRAND TOTAL $765,580.
Not Related to Needs.
These appropriations, as they stand in the budget, are related
in no way to the amount of work that is to be performed or to
the new equipment that is to be added to the city's property.
From practically all of the items in the first division (above)
except the appropriation for new apparatus for the fire depart-
ment, expenditures are made that are properly allowable as
expense of administration, operation, maintenance and capital
outlay. One year, extra building repairs may be a heavy drain
upon the "maintenance" account; another year, the same insti-
tution may lay up a supply of blankets or crockery to last far
into the future.
These appropriations are not made as the sum of various
elements, such as the normal unit cost of feeding prisoners,
multiplied by the expected number of prisoners: the normal
expense of maintaining a team of horses, multiplied by the num-
ber of teams; the normal fuel expense of an engine house,
multiplied by the number of houses, etc. The consideration
that has most weight with the budget-makers is the amount of
the previous year's appropriation, apparently regardless of what
was bought with it.
It is not customary for the department or institution man-
ager to leave a surplus in his maintenance appropriation at the
end of the year. Thus, for example, all of the hospitals and
jails came out either exactly even or a little in debt at the end
of the year (although stores records, if they were kept, would
indicate in some cases how the balance had been applied). The
Fire Department, with $160,000 at its disposal, spent all but $44.
The Playgrounds Department approached the close of the fiscal
year with about half of its maintenance appropriation un-
spent, but in June it spent approximately $10,000 out of the total
Some of the institutions undertake to arrive at unit costs by
dividing their total expense for "maintenance" by the number
of inmate-days, and use the result as a basis for their next
year's budget estimate. Obviously, if anything like a correct
basis is to be reached, only operating expense as such will be
divisible, plus an amount for depreciation, which can be esti-
mated with fair accuracy. Extra supplies and stores, new equip-
ment, extraordinary repairs to buildings, etc., should be ex-
cluded from the calculation.
Using the Surplus.
Thus at the Tuberculosis Hospital, the entire maintenance
appropriation of $46,000 was spent in 1013-14, although there
was a large supply of new blankets, toweling, bedding and new
beds on hand at the end of the year, purchased out of what
otherwise would have been "surplus." This use of the surplus,
in the absence of stores accounts or an adequate inventory
taken at budget-making time, made the unit operating costs for
1913-14 greater than they were in fact, and secured for the hos-
pital an appropriation for the new year in which was included
money to buy articles already on hand.
That is, the appropriation for 1914-15 (the present fiscal
year) was based on the probability of having to care for 200
patients at a per capita expense based on last year's expendi-
tures. By reason of the equipment that was in stock at the
beginning of the year, the new appropriation of $51,000 will be
sufficient to care for approximately 225 patients, if nceessary,
and make a number of alterations and repairs.
There is no reason to doubt that the money is being expended
with honesty and good judgment, although this does not change
the fact that in principle this practice is wholly wrong. It
serves to illustrate how inadequate and inexact is the informa-
tion on which the budget-makers base their decisions as to the
amounts of the maintenance appropriations.
Nearly all of the segregated appropriations to the police,
public works and electricity departments ended the year with
a surplus, indicating the advantages of even a crude segrega-
tion. In a proper budget, even these appropriations would be
broken up and distributed among the several functions to which
they are chargeable, instead of being charged in a lump sum
to the department, which may have several functions.
Into this class fall the county offices which exist as a neces-
sary part of the governmental machine, as prescribed by Char-
ter or state law. The heads of these offices (with some minor
exceptions) are elected, although the duties of most of them are
Recognizing the obvious fact that unlimited "patronage"
invariably tends to increase the expense of elective offices, the
framers of the Charter undertook to curb this evil by prescrib-
ing the exact number of deputies, clerks, assistants and other
employes in each of the county offices, together with their indi-
Most of the salary expense of these offices is distinctly
"overhead" and cannot easily be measured in terms of work
performed. Thus, the Coroner's office must maintain its organi-
zation constantly, whether the inquests are many or few. The
offices of Treasurer, County Clerk, City Attorney, District At-
torney, Sheriff and Mayor must be maintained whether their
work is relatively heavy or relatively light, and so, too, with the
office of the Auditor, Tax Collector, Assessor and Recorder,
although these four are given allowances for "extra clerks" for
The Charter salaries, except for the offices of Assessor and
Recorder, date from 1900. Unquestionably the work in some of
the offices has increased since then, but in the absence of intens-
ive departmental studies it is impossible to determine whether
the salary expense of a given office is too high or too low.*
Great Increase in Expense.
Year by year additional employes other than those allowed
under the Charter have been added to the salary rolls of the
county offices by the budget-makers upon request of the county
officers. A comparison of the salary expense of deputies, assist-
ants and clerks in the offices of the Board of Supervisors, Mayor,
Auditor, Coroner, Tax Collector, Treasurer, Justices' Courts,
District Attorney, City Attorney, County Clerk and Sheriff (ex-
cepting court-room clerks and bailiffs) in 1900-01, the year the
Charter went into effect, with 1913-14 shows there has been an
increase of 58 per cent. In 1900-01, this expense amounted to
$261,420; in 1913-14, it amounted to $414,000.!
♦There is presented elsewhere in this report such a departmental study
of the Sheriff's office, which shows several positions there could be abol-
ished without loss of efficiency or service.
tThe offices' of Assessor and Recorder were not included in the above
computation, for the reason that the charter was amended since 1901 so as
to allow them additional employes.
The itemized salaries allowed in the 1913-14 budget to the
several county offices and departments under this heading came
to the following totals, with appropriations for "expense" shown
in a parallel column (extra clerks not included here):
Supervisors and clerks $84,060. $13,000.
Superior Courts 52,080.
Justices' Courts 28,800.
Police Courts 24,000.
Juvenile Court 27,420. 2,400.
Juvenile Detention Home 7,320.
Law Library 4,800.
Sealer of Weights and Measures 4,500. 1,080.
Mayor 17,400. 1,74°.
City Attorney 36,200. 5,000.
District Attorney 54,800. 5,000.
Auditor 33,700. 400.
Assessor 48,200. 2,000.
Coroner 23,680. 2,700.
Tax Collector 48,580 700.
Treasurer 24, 100.
County Clerk 107,800.
Sheriff 102,200. 2,500.
Totals $761,240. $36,520.
Public's Wishes Disregarded.
Certain of the county officers proposed Charter amendments in
1912 materially increasing the number and salaries of their depu-
ties and assistants, which amendments were all defeated. A way
was found, however, to employ the additional deputies, although
authority therefor had been denied by the voters. In the follow-
ing table the Charter salary allowance, the totals asked by each
office in the defeated Charter amendments and the totals provided
in the 1914-15 budget are set down:
Office.* Charter Defeated Amendment 1914-15 budget.
Auditor $13,600. $35,300. $33,820.
Coroner 16,000. 26,900. 23,980.
Tax Collector . . . 31,300. 63,800. 47,380.
Treasurer 11,200. 25,100. 27,100.
County Clerk.... 75,400. 110,900. 107,800.
Sheriff 82,400. 104,300. 102,800.
No Charter amendments creating new positions or raising sal-
aries were asked in the other county offices, although without
exception they have far exceeded the original Charter authoriza-
tion also, as shown by the following comparison:
Office Charter Allowance Budget Allowance
Mayor $10,200. $17,520.
City Attorney 20,300. 36,200.
District Attorney 29,300. 58,700.
Justices' Court attaches 8,400. 10,800.
♦Amendments relating to the Assessor's and Recorder's office were pro-
posed, but without changing the totals for these offices 1 , so they were not
included in this table.
Salaries of clerks in the office of the Board of Supervisors
are not fixed in the Charter, but the right rests with the Board
itself to create positions and fix salaries.
In the fiscal year 1900-01, the salary expense of the Clerk of
the Board and his assistants, clerks, stenographers, etc., amounted
to $21,100. This had increased to $24,085 in the fiscal year
1906-07 and to $41,760 in 1914-15, which sum does not include
salary expense of $2,700 paid from an appropriation entitled
"Supplies Committee Expenses," making the total salary ex-
pense of the Clerk and his assistants amount to $44,460, or 85
per cent more than fourteen years ago. (Note I.)
General Summary, Class "D."
The extraordinary increase in the salary expense of the
county offices (at a rate considerably in excess of the increase
in population) suggests again the need of establishing a rela-
tionship between salaries and the amount of work that is to be
In all lines of private enterprise in the past fifteen years the
proportion of "overhead" expense to total expense has been
reduced rather than increased, but labor-saving devices and
methods can never be installed in public offices as long as every
position is a "vested interest," to which the incumbent, or the
officer who appointed him, has an inherent right.
Other cities have worked out simplified methods for the
transaction of public business and have installed them with
great saving to the public. Only recently, the Assessor's office
in San Francisco has provided a means of shortening the time
and labor of writing tax bills by doing away with the old
descriptions of real estate and substituting lot and block numbers,
but his energy and labor go for naught if the same number of
clerks as heretofore take the same length of time to write the
same number of bills. Neither in the budget of 1914-15 nor in the
budget of 1915-16 has the expense of clerks been decreased.
Intensive studies of every office and department, which would
disclose the duties of every employee and whether he was idle
or busy, would show the way to save hundreds of thousands of
dollars in San Francisco. Similar results have been obtained
elsewhere — New York, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Phila-
delphia, etc.; but first these cities had to give up the "vested
interest" idea of public service.
There were eight items in the 1913-14 budget appropriating
money for specific articles of equipment, amounting in all to
$26,997, as follows:
Note 1. — The number of idle clerks in the office of the Board attracted
the attention of the now incumbent Finance Committee, which in its
budget report to the Board under date of April 27, 1014, stated there was
an unnecessary number of clerks, and recommended that three be trans-
ferred to some other department or office. Nothing- has been done in the
Police Department, two auto patrol wagons $9,000
Police Department, 5-passenger automobile 2,100
Public Works, two autos, time keeping department 1,600
Health Department, auto ambulance, main hospital 5,000
Health Department, auto ambulance, emergency hospitals.. 5,000
Health Department, motor truck for Relief Home 2,500
Health Department, sterilizer for emergency hospitals 325
Health Department, cold storage plant, Isolation hospital.. 1,472
This itemized list is by no means inclusive of all the new
equipment added to the city's property, or intended to be added
at budget-making time. It does not even include all auto-
mobiles, for during the fiscal year additional cars were pur-
chased for the Mayor and Board of Supervisors, and motor
trucks were bought for the Street Repair Bureau, but these
were paid for out of "blanket" or miscellaneous accounts.
The partial itemization of equipment needs, as it exists in
the San Francisco budget, merely emphazises the necessity of
adopting systematic methods.
More than one-quarter of the total general fund budget is
appropriated for expenses that have been centralized under the
control of the Board of Supervisors. Thus all charges for
lighting the various public buildings, for rents, for water, re-
pairs to buildings and for printing, stationery and even gasoline
for city automobiles (except in some departments) are paid out
of central lumped appropriations instead of being paid out of
the operating accounts of the several departments.
The appropriations of this nature in the 1913-14 budget were
Repairs to streets, sewers and buildings (Item No. 73) . .$1,150,000
Repairs to school buildings 100,000
Cleaning and sprinkling streets 350,000
Lighting streets and public buildings 445,000
Water for municipal purposes, hydrants 132,000
Water for buildings 23,000
"Urgent Necessities" 100,000
Stationery, books and printing 44,000
Printing public documents 11,000
Rents, repairs and equipment of buildings 80,000
Furniture for public buildings 9,000
Premiums on official bonds 4,500
Purchase of right of way 13,000
Gasoline for city automobiles 3, 000
Purchase of directories 600
Purchase and repair of book typewriters 500
Rebinding books 500
The first three items in the foregoing list, aggregating more
than three-fifths of the whole, are appropriated with the restrict-
ing clause "to be expended by the Board of Public Works
under the direction of the Board of Supervisors." The largest
of the three (Budget Item No. 73) is discussed hereafter in
The appropriation for "Urgent Necessities" is made pursuant
to Section 8 of Article III, Chapter I of the Charter, and ex-
penditures therefrom during the year must be approved by
fifteen Supervisors and signed by the Mayor. A proper study
of the year's needs and their systematic consideration at budget-
making time would do away with the necessity of maintaining
a large emergency account, as shown by the fact that many of
the uses to which it is now put are "urgent necessities" by
courtesy only, and should have been foreseen and provided for.
The remaining centralized service appropriations are accounts
that can be estimated fairly closely and even if they are not,
they are so controlled during the year that there can be no
objection to this method, providing, however, the departments
receiving or using water, light, stationery, furniture or occupying
rented buildings are charged with their proper share of the
expenditures under these headings.
Under the present system, the hospitals and institutions
undertake to arrive at a "unit cost" of maintaining their inmates
by dividing the number of inmate-days into an expense total
that does not include such services as light, water and building
repairs, or supplies, such as stationery, gasoline, etc. Obviously,
the result is vague and misleading. It is likely that a more
economical use of these services and supplies would be stimu-
lated if the departments were charged with them.
ONE BUDGET ITEM ANALYZED.
The following analysis and discussion of Item No. 73 in the
1913-14 budget illustrates several of the weaknesses of the San
Francisco budget system.
The item reads as follows:
"73. For paving, repaving, grading, constructing and
repairs to streets, for construction of, reconstruction of
and repairs to sewers, and for construction of and re-
pairs to public buildings and other structures except
school buildings, $1,150,000."
In this single item there was provided a sum greater than the
total annual expense of the City of Sacramento for all purposes.
On the basis of this blanket estimate, a tax amounting to nearly
22 cents on each $100 of assessed value was levied and collected,
although it is difficult to understand how the Mayor, Board of
Supervisors and the public could be expected to think and act
intelligently on such a grouping of elements. (Note I.)
Note 1.— The matter is partially explained by the fact that this partic-
ular appropriation is not released automatically by the adoption of the
budget, but is only provided as- a fund "to be spent by the Board of Public
Works under the direction of the Board of Supervisors." This arrange-
ment, while opposed to the spirit of the charter, gives the Supervisors, an
elected body, control over the Board of Works, an appointed body. It
possesses some advantages, depending largely upon the relative integrity
This account is entirely at the disposal of the Board of
Supervisors, by whom it is apportioned currently throughout the
year, partly for specific purposes more or less closely related
to the subject of the appropriation (as quoted above) and partly
for the ordinary expenses of the three permanent bureaus of
streets repairs, sewer repairs and public buildings. Apportion-
ments to the three bureaus are made monthly, and in practice
are contingent upon the promise of the bureau chiefs to do as
the Supervisors direct. (See Note I.) A cypical regular monthly
apportionment is as follows:
For ordinary repairs to streets during July $60,000
For ordinary repairs to sewers during July 12,000
For repairs to Fire Department buildings during July.... 1,500
For repairs to "general public buildings" during July 1,000
For repairs to Police Department buildings during July... 500
In addition to the regular work of the bureaus, the fund
is used to meet unexpected demands for street and sewer work
and for miscellaneous emergency building repairs during the
year. Frequently streets on which the city owns property are
improved, and the city's share of the expense is taken from
Budget Item No. 73. To the extent that the money was pro-
vided for emergency purposes of this kind, therefore, the
ambiguity and absence of detail are unavoidable and permissible.
The total expenditures of this kind that could not reasonably
have been anticipated were under $50,000 in the fiscal year
Still other applications of Budget Item No. 73 lead to the
belief that this appropriation is a kind of a "jack-pot" or catch-
all. For example, some of the uses to which it was put were
For salaries in the storekeeping department, Board of
Public Works $ 3,150
For restoring records in Assessor's office 10,000
For the restoration of surveys 44,000
Providing block books for the Assessor 2,600
Purchase of heaters for health office 108
Purchase of equipment for building at Relief Home 1,000
Purchase of pulmotor and oxygen helmets, emergency
Furnishing cottage at isolation hospital 450
Etc., etc., etc
and political independence of the Supervisors on the one hand, and the
intelligence and efficiency of the Board of Works on the other.
The situation is one of those typical examples of conflict between two
authorities, where the one that controls the money works out a means of
dictating to the other. The charter undertakes to remove administrative
officers from political influence by making them appointive, but even
appointive officers are powerless without money. The subversion of the
charter intent noted here came about suddenly and unexpectedly a few
years' ago. when a capable and non -political Board of Supervisors saw the
need of controlling what they believed to be an inefficient Board of
Works. Under the present arrangement, the Board of Supervisors, through
its Finance, Streets and Public Buildings Committees, performs functions
that are theoretically within the scope of the Board of Works. The situ-
ation should be understood, although it does not affect the matter under
discussion, namely, the need for more exact budget methods.
These purposes are not even remotely connected with the
title of the appropriation — "paving, repaying, etc., of streets,
repairs to sewers, etc., and repairs to buildings . . ." They
suggest with stronger emphasis the need of a proper, segregated
budget, arranged in such detail that the public will know what
is to be purchased or provided; the only exception being a single
"Urgent Necessity" account, the size of which should be
measured by the amount of the genuine "emergency" expendi-
tures of the preceding year.
Bureau of Street Repair Budget.
As an example of the lax methods employed in the making
and administration of the budget, a brief analysis is given here
of the work of the Bureau of Street Repairs, which spends
approximately $700,000 a year for labor, teams, materials, sup-
plies, equipment, etc.
First, this amount is not calculated on the basis of actual
needs, which may be greater or less than $700,000, but it is
estimated to be about what the city can afford to spend.
Second, its expenditure is governed by an informal policy of
the Board of Supervisors, which policy is not concerned primarily
with the cost or the amount of work that should be done, but
with the expediency of keeping a certain force of men and teams
regularly employed. Accordingly, instead of adjusting the size
of the force to the job, the job is adjusted to fit the size of
It is not desired to question the propriety of the absolute
amount. The expenditure of $60,000 a month to maintain the
streets of San Francisco in good repair may be proper and
reasonable, provided the city gets full value for its money.
Under certain definite conditions, there would be nothing in-
herently wrong with the policy of keeping a fixed number of
men and teams regularly employed, but in practice, the best
interests of the taxpayers are subordinated to the policy.
That this is true is proven by the repeated offers of private
contractors to do street work more cheaply than the Bureau of
Street Repairs can do it. When it is taken into consideration
that the Charter requires city contractors to pay a minimum
wage of $3.00 for an eight-hour day, these offers show that
privileges have worked their way into the Street Repair Bureau.
For example, all of the employes of this bureau, through the
working of the "policy" described above, are given a Saturday
half-holiday with pay each week. A "monopoly price" (from 50
cents to $1.00 over the current market rate) is paid for teams,
which also receive the Saturday half-holiday with pay. Deficient
organization and lack of discipline eat up the balance of what
would be the private contractor's profits — and more besides.
Analysis and classification of the details included in the ex-
pense of the Bureau of Street Repairs disclose the fact that this
appropriation account was applied to the performance of several
easily distinguishable functions, each susceptible of separate
1. Overhead administration of bureau. (In addition to over-
head salaries specified elsewhere in the budget.)
2. Maintenance of corporation yards.
Maintenance of bridges.
Maintenance and operation of asphalt plant.
Grading and curb-setting.
Salaries and wages are paid out in connection with each of
these functions, and in addition there are expenditures for sup-
plies, materials and equipment used in the work of the bureau,
such as asphalt, crushed rock, sand, fuel oil, curbing, shovels and
picks, motor trucks, basalt blocks, etc., all of which could be
allotted to the proper divisions or functions of the bureau,
thereby making the determination of unit costs possible.
Government Cost Accounting.
In the various shops of the United States Government (as
at Mare Island) strict cost accounting is required, because the
Government has adopted the expedient of putting its shops on a
competitive basis, allowing them the private manufacturer's
profit as a differential. Such a practice might not be feasible
in the street repair department of a city, but the need of cost
accounting is in no way diminished by this fact. A department
that is entrusted with the expenditure of a fixed sum, as is the
Bureau of Street Repairs, should prove its efficiency by cur-
rently reporting unit cost records for each of its several functions.
Such records are possible — private contractors keep them of
necessity, otherwise they would be unable to bid on city work.
The need of cost records was shown in a meeting of the Board
of Supervisors last July, when the Finance Committee was
making one of its periodical efforts to cut the monthly appor-
tionment of the Street Repair Bureau from $60,000 to $40,000,
in order that the remaining $20,000 might be used for "contract
work" at a considerable saving to the city. One of the members
of the Board asked the chairman of the Finance Committee
what the saving would amount to on asphalt paving. The reply
was that the city had no records to show how much its work
was costing. (Note 2.)
A proper budget for the Street Repair Bureau would take
into account in the first instance all those items of expense which
can be definitely forecasted in advance, such as
Note 2. — For several months prior to last July, it was the custom of the
Bureau of Street Repairs to publish weekly in the Municipal Report a
statement of its activities, consisting- of how much was spent for teams,
how much for men, how much for the corporation yard, etc., but without
any attempt to relate the expense to the amount of work done. Some one
interested wrote to the Bureau, calling its attention to the fact that the
record as published was worthless, and asking for unit costs. Since that
time no statement of any kind has been published.
(i) Overhead administration of bureau:
(b) Supplies and transportation;
(c) Necessary new equipment, such as tools,
(2) Maintenance of corporation yard:
(a) Regular salaries and wages;
(b) Estimated expense of maintaining the
(3) Maintenance of bridges:
(a) Regular wages;
(b) Estimated expense of maintenance and
(4) Maintenance of asphalt plant:
(a) Regular wages;
(b) Estimated expense of supplies, not mate-
Having fixed upon these items of expense and provided for
them specifically, the budget-makers would properly decide upon
how much, in their judgment, the city could afford to spend for
street repairs during the coming year; that is, how much for
wages, teams and materials, the variable elements in the ex-
pense of the bureau that would form the basis for cost ac-
Check on Extravagance.
It would not be necessary to estimate in advance, as in some
cities, how many yards of each kind of paving, etc., should be
provided for. Cost accounting would serve as a check upon
extravagance, for if the bureau's unit costs were very much
higher than the bids of reputable contractors for the same work,
public opinion would soon be effective in enforcing economy.
An example of the defective and incomplete salary itemiza-
tion that is common in the budget is illustrated by the pay roll
of the Street Repair Bureau. On page 9 of the printed budget
there are the following items under the heading of Street Repair:
322. 1 Superintendent $3,000
323. 1 Assistant superintendent 2,400
324. 1 Clerk 1,500
325. 1 Stenographer 1,500
326. 6 Engineers on bridges, at $1,560 9,360
327. 7 Watchmen-bridge tenders, at $1,080 7,560
Paid from the blanket appropriation for street repairs, and
not specified in the budget, are the following regular positions
in the bureau:
2 Assistant superintendents, at $1,800 $3,600
1 Team foreman 1,800
1 Superintendent stone paving 2,100
1 Foreman paver 2, 100
1 Experienced clerk 1,500
Steam roller engineers, blacksmiths, carpenters, watch-
men, etc., etc.
Why one assistant superintendent should be "in" the budget
and two should not; why one clerk is "in" and one is "out;"
why the team foreman and superintendent of stone paving
should be "out" instead of "in" when all of these positions are
permanent are questions which defy explanation.
Bureau of Sewer Cleaning and Repairs.
The Bureau of Sewer Cleaning and Repairs spends approxi-
mately $150,000 annually, which is apportioned monthly from the
same blanket budget item as apportionments are made to the
Bureau of Street Repair. Virtually the same conditions surround
the apportionments, and the money is spent in the same way.
There is no reason why the expense of this bureau should not
be estimated for a year in advance, on a classification which
would include separately the items of general overhead adminis-
tration, cleaning of catchbasins, flushing sewers, and repairs,
with the proper apportionment of labor, materials and equip-
ment to each item.
Bureau of Building Repairs and Maintenance.
A sweeping reorganization of accounts in the Bureau of
Building Repairs and Maintenance would be necessary before
even a beginning could be made in the installation of exact
It is the function of this bureau to supervise the janitorial
and elevator service in municipal buildings, and to do all of the
building repair work for the Department of Education, the Fire
Department, Police Department, Health Department, Hall of
Justice, City Hall and all other city buildings except those
under the jurisdiction of the Park Commission.
Each month an apportionment is made from the blanket
budget item under the following headings:
"For repairs to Fire Department buildings during July ... .$1,500
For repairs to Police Department buildings during July.... 500
For repairs to general city buildings during July 1,000"
(A separate budget item provides the money for current re-
pairs to school buildings.)
From time to time special apportionments are made from the
blanket streets, sewers and buildings item for specified jobs
when it appears that the regular monthly apportionments will
not be sufficient. Thus, for example, during the fiscal year
1913-14 special apportionments aggregating $14,405 were made
for such building repair work as painting Relief Home, $6,000;
wiring Hall of Records, $830; repairs to jails, $2,000; construc-
tion of cottage at Isolation Hospital, $2,800; etc., etc.
In addition, building repairs frequently are paid for from the
maintenance accounts of the various city institutions, such as
the Tuberculosis Hospital, Isolation Hospital, etc. No rule
determines definitely what budget accounts should be charged
with the expense. Managers and superintendents of the institu-
tions try, of course, to have their repair work charged to the
Repair Bureau's accounts, but failing in this, they usually arrange
to pay the workmen out of the money appropriated to their
institutions under the heading of "maintenance."
The natural result is a bookkeeping tangle that makes a
systematic record of repair and maintenance costs impossible,
and at the same time prevents the making of accurate estimates
for budget purposes. As in the Bureau of Street Repair, the
tendency is to fit the job to the regular force of the bureau,
rather than fit the force to the jobs, as a private industry
System Makes for Inefficiency.
The system of charging building repairs (except in a com-
paratively few instances) to a blanket account, instead of
charging them against the accounts of the several departments
which, by the nature of their responsibilities, the departmental
managers are interested in conserving, is wrong in theory and
expensive in practice. Some marked illustrations of the truth
of this statement are available, and are given here to show the
primary fault of the system:
i. Some months ago a "solarium" was needed at the Tuber-
culosis Hospital and following the usual procedure the Board
of Public Works was asked to make an estimate of the cost. At
the same time a private contractor was asked by the superin-
tendent of the hospital to make a bid. The two estimates com-
pared as follows:
Board of Public Works $135
In order for the city to have taken advantage of the lower bid
the superintendent would have to pay for the work out of his
maintenance appropriation (after first getting permission), but
in this case arrangements were made to charge the work to the
"blanket account" of the Building Repair Bureau, and the
superintendent's personal interest in the outside bid was at an
end. The Repair Bureau did the job.
2. A few weeks later there were two small jobs at the same
hospital and in the same manner the Board of Works and out-
side bidders were asked to submit estimates. One of the jobs,
described in Board of Health Requisition No. 970 as "placing
a canopy over gas-plate in officers' dining room; placing 18-inch
ventilator in officers' dining room; placing 8-inch ventilator over
icebox," was estimated as follows:
Board of Public Works $65.00
C. Brown & Sons 35-00
Cook & Co 22.50
The second job, described in Requisition No. 971 as "installing
four 3-light clusters with pendant switch in officers' dining room;
one 4-light cluster and switch in internes' room, and cap over
outlet," was estimated as follows:
Board of Public Works $45
Levy Electric Company 26
This time the Bureau of Building Repairs reported that its funds
were low and that if it did the work, it must be at the expense
of the hospital maintenance account. Here the personal interest
of the superintendent in conserving the funds at his disposal was
touched, where it had not been in the construction of the "sola-
rium." He made formal application to the Finance Committee
to be allowed to have the work done outside, which was granted,
and the city saved the difference between $48.50 and $110.
3. A larger job — the reconstruction of the superintendent's
residence at the Isolation Hospital — illustrates the same principle
and also indicates the efficiency of the Building Repair Bureau.
This residence, or "cottage," was completed December 9,
1913, by private contract at a total cost of $3,899. Two weeks
later the building was partly destroyed by fire. (Note 3.) Messrs.
Walker and Baker, of the City Architect's office, with Consulting
Architect Reid, surveyed the damaged building and made what
they declared in their report was a liberal estimate of the cost
of restoring it to its original condition.
Their estimate was $2,178.
The estimate of the Repair Bureau was $2,800.
The Supervisors appropriated $2,800 and the Building Repair
Bureau did the work, spending exactly $2,805.43.
One of the items of the reconstruction was the building of a
fireplace and chimney. An outside contractor, who had built a
similar fireplace and chimney, offered to do the job for $175.
It cost the Building Repair Bureau $295.68.
The architects' estimate of the cost of lumber, millwork and
removing the burned portions, including labor, was $865. The
Repair Bureau brought the actual cost to $1,270.42. The archi-
tects' estimate on painting was $375. This item cost the Repair
The specifications on which the Building Repair Bureau based
its estimate called for complete restoration. An examination
made in May, after all of the appropriation had been spent, dis-
closed the fact that none of the doors fit their frames, several
of the doors would not close at all, the windows would not remain
closed unless they were locked and they could be locked only with
The wiring for the telephone in the superintendent's bedroom
was carried inside the wall and there forgotten until the room
was plastered. In an attempt to locate the wire, several holes
Note 3. — The official report of Battalion Chief Charles Murphy of Dis-
trict 4 stated that the fire started under the hearth, where an iron plate
on which the 'brick rested had been laid in direct contact with a double
wooden floor in violation of Section 246 of Building Ordinance 1008. The
cottage had been built under the surveillance of an inspector of the
Board of Works.
were drilled in the plaster, but finally the search was abandoned
and new wiring was carried in on the outer surface of the wall.
The holes in the plaster were covered with stitcky flypaper.
Flypaper was also used in the hall to cover holes made by a
Although the specifications included cleaning up the rubbish
after the job had been completed, extra help had to be hired
for this work and paid from the hospital maintenance account.
The superintendent of the hospital, explaining the diligence
of the Board of Works employes who constructed the cottage,
"They came to work when it suited them and quit
when they pleased."
A Remedy in the Budget.
As long as money for building repairs is apportioned as at
present conditions of inefficiency similar to those described must
almost certainly follow. These conditions can be corrected, how-
ever, by revising the budget in such a way as
(a) to eliminate "blanket" appropriations; and
(b) to provide for each institution or building a sepa-
rate repair appropriation based on an exact esti-
mate of needs.
The Bureau of Building Repairs could be retained, but there
would be established between it and the departments the rela-
tionship of employee to employer. In effect, the departmental
managers would hire the Repair Bureau to do their work, and
if they were made to pay more than private contractors charged,
the Bureau would quickly be abolished. Its one excuse for
existence would lie in its ability to do the work more cheaply
than it could be done outside.
In a proper budget the numerous "miscellaneous" apportion-
ments out of Blanket Item No. 73 would be provided for
specifically in their proper place. Sound budget methods cut
the unknown quantity called "miscellaneous" to a minimum,
because when officials undertake to plan their work intelligently
their needs take concrete form.
This item (No. 73) should be broken up into its constituent
elements and these elements classified in such a way as to make
the budget useful for administrative purposes and understandable
to the public.
This group is made up of specific appropriations outside of
the regular routine and controlled only by the Supervisors, con-
sisting principally of special improvement funds, which, if not
spent in the fiscal year in which they are provided, are carried
over with the liability (i. e., the appropriation) still against them.
This itemization is commendable, but like the itemization in
Class "E," it is incomplete and misleading. Apparently the
Finance Committee would prefer to appropriate a lump sum for
such work, for in its budget report for the present fiscal year,
dated April 27, 1914, it writes (page 5): "Last year the Commit-
tee recommended that improvements of this character (special
street work) be not specially itemized in the budget, but that the
work be done. Upon the recommendation of the other commit-
tees of the Board the Finance Committee will always endeavor to
find appropriations for work of this character."
In underlining the final clause in the quotation, there is no
intended reflection upon the present able and honest Finance
Committee, but rather a desire to emphasize a fact which must
have escaped them, namely, that a system which permits one
finance committee to "find" appropriations would be an easy
means to questionable ends with a less able and conscientious
committee in charge of the city's money.
Without itemization, the budget affords no way for the
Supervisors, the Mayor or the public to measure intelligently
the proposed expenditures.
The list of Class "G" appropriations follows:
Ten street improvement "special funds" $199,500
Extension Municipal Water Works special fund.. 15,000
Convenience stations special fund 15,000
Furniture new City Hall special fund 50,000
Construction new Fire Department buildings 95,ooo
Potrero Emergency Hospital and equipment.... 18,000
Central Fire Alarm Station and equipment 75,ooo
Legal expenses, condemnation Spring Valley 50,000
Widber deficiency 6,964
In a private business, all of these expenditures are on the
"capital account," except the Widber deficiency, which would be
charged to "profit and loss." For some years a defalcation has
been carried on the Treasurer's books as a deficit, and the money
is here appropriated to balance the books.
The Board of Supervisors controls the appropriation for new
fire houses as a check upon the Board of Fire Commissioners.
Under the Charter (Article IX, Chapter I, Section 5) the Fire
Commission is authorized to "organize the department, create
and establish such fire companies as it may deem necessary"
and "exercise full power and authority over all appropriations
made for the use of the department." By controlling the appro-
priation for new houses, the Board of Supervisors exercises a
certain measure of authority not given it under the Charter.
(See in this report discussion of relationship between Super-
visors and administrative boards.)
The appropriation for new fire houses should be itemized in
the budget, showing where they are to be established and per-
mitting public discussion of the question.
Certain appropriations in the budget required by law to be
made are grouped together here, as follows:
Amount Specified in Charter:
"Special Election Fund" $ 50,000
Civil Service Commission, expenses and inspection 17,500
Police Chief's contingent fund 8,000
Mayor's contingent expenses 3,600
Relief to exempt firemen 5,000
Public celebrations 3,000
Legally Required, Exact Amount not Specified.
Stenographers, Superior Courts $20,000
Interpreters, Superior Courts 9,600
Jury and witness fees 27,000
Jury expenses 1,500
Grand jury expenses 3,000
Court orders 12,000
Examination of insane persons 8,000
Printing law and motion calendar 5, 000
Auditor, extra clerks, extending assessment roll.. 5,000
Assessor, extra clerks 46,000
Assessor, poll tax collectors 5,000
Stationery for the Assessor 5, 500
Recorder, copyists (paid by piece work) 44,000
Tax Collector, extra clerks 18,720
Printing delinquent tax list 2,000
License tags 2,000
Maintenance of minors 200,000
Maintenance inmates, state institutions 49,000
"City and County good roads fund" 500
Miscellaneous Routine Appropriations:
"Special Emergency Sanitary Measures" $ 15,000
Municipal Band for outdoor concerts 10,000
Maintenance public pound 12,000
Investigation of public utilities 10,000
Interment United States soldiers and sailors 2,500
Burial of indigent dead 4,000
Publishing of municipal reports 5.000
Grand total $609,420
Special Election Fund.
Of the appropriations required to be made in specified
amounts, all are regularly consumed except the "Special Election
Fund," which is an emergency fund required to be maintained
by the Charter (Article XI, Chapter III, Section 14), which reads:
Section 14. In the first annual budget to be adopted
hereafter, by the Board of Supervisors, said Board shall
appropriate not less than fifty thousand dollars to be
known as the special election fund, to be used exclusively
for defraying the cost of verifying petitions and other
expenses of special elections initiated by petition of the
electorate, including recall elections. In the event of the
expenditure of any of said fund, the Board of Supervisors
in the next succeeding annual budget shall appropriate
a sum sufficient to replete said Special Election Fund.
(Added by amendment November 15, 1910.)
Evidently it was intended to create a permanent, or "con-
tinuing fund," which would be a drain upon the taxpayers only
when special elections were called. It has been the practice of
the Supervisors, however, to use the unexpended balance at the
end of each year for other purposes and instead of appropriat-
ing enough to replete the fund, they appropriate an additional
Thus, in the fiscal year 1912-13 (the first after the above pro-
vision went into effect) there was provided a special election
fund of $50,000, of which $43,218 was spent, leaving a balance of
$6,782, which was re-appropriated for other purposes. In the
budget for the fiscal year 1913-14 a new appropriation of
$50,000 was made, none of which was spent. Under the Charter,
it should have retained its identity as the "Special Election
Fund" and reduced by that amount (or approximately one cent
on the tax rate) the taxes of the present fiscal year. It went
into other projects, however, and the 1914-15 budget raised and
appropriated still another $50,000 for possible special elections.
The appropriation for extra clerks legally required to be
made to the Assessor, Tax Collector, Auditor and Recorder,
should be subject to the same kind of study as has been sug-
gested for these offices under Class "D," namely, effort should
be made to relate the amount of work to the salary expense.
Most of the other appropriations in this group must be esti-
mated under difficult conditions and whether they show a surplus
or deficit, no blame can attach to the budget-making body that
uses reasonable judgment. Thus, grand jury expenses may mount
up to double the appropriation, and so with the expense of ex-
amining insane persons, etc.
APPLICATIONS OF SURPLUS.
The inevitable result of loose budget methods will be either
a surplus or a deficit at the end of the fiscal year, and as deficits
are unpopular, it has been the practice for some years to plan in
advance for the creation of a surplus of from $150,000 to $400,000
in order that any mistakes of the year may be covered and there
may be left a comfortable balance to be spent according to the
judgment of the Finance Committee without being called to the
public attention through the budget.
But for this practice, strict accounting methods would have
been installed long ago, to put public business on a business-
The surplus is created in three ways: (a) by over-estimating
the amounts required to be raised by taxation; (b) by under-
estimating the assessment roll, and (c) by under-estimating the
receipts from sources other than taxation.
Thus, in the fiscal year 1912-13, the estimate of the assess-
ment roll was made so low when the tax rate was fixed that
there was produced here a surplus collection of $122,200. Mis-
cellaneous receipts exceeded the estimate by $60,000, and there
were free surpluses in the appropriation accounts amounting to
$152,000, bringing the total surplus to approximately $335,000.
If this had been applied to the reduction of taxes, it would have
saved the taxpayers more than six cents on each $100 assessed
value. Instead, the sum of $30,000 only was applied to the reduc-
tion of taxes, most of the remainder being spent for miscellaneous
purposes during the fiscal year 1913-14 except approximately
$90,000 paid out in judgments against the city, and $65,000 which
went to swell the available surplus in June, 1914.
Meantime, the budget for the fiscal year 1913-14 had been
made and the tax rate fixed, again on an under-estimated assess-
ment roll, which ultimately yielded approximately $10,000 more
than the estimate. The receipts from other sources were ap-
proximately $15,000 more than had been officially counted on,
and at the end of the year the surplus items in the budget
exceeded the deficits by $235,000. During the year two bond
elections had carried and it was held that the general fund
should be reimbursed from the sale of these bonds for the ex-
pense of the elections, which added $65,500 more. Expenditures
amounting to $21,000 made from the general fund in behalf of
the Twin Peaks tunnel project were returned when the assess-
ments were collected, going to swell the surplus further. In all,
there was available as surplus at the close of the fiscal year
1913-14 a sum close to $400,000.
Had this balance been applied to the reduction of taxes, it
would have lowered the rate for the current year by 7 cents on
each $100 valuation. Instead, however, the Finance Committee
applied $16,000 only to this purpose and the Board reappropriated
the balance, the first batch of extra-budget appropriations from
surplus being as follows:
Completion Polytechnic High School $165,000
Machinery for Municipal Asphalt plant 32,000
Repairs to Fourth street bridge 50,000
Building Repair Department, new shop 20,000
Motor trucks, Street Repair Bureau 11,000
Paving bricks for Third street 1 1,320
Repairs to Isolation Hospital 5>ooo
Miscellaneous purposes 20,000
These are examples of "finding" appropriations. It is not
contended that any of this money was diverted to an improper
purpose, but that when it is used in this manner it escapes the
attention that the public bestows upon budgetary appropriations,
and therefore is liable to misuse.
Surplus Fund and Purposes for Which It May Be Used.
It is questionable whether this application of surplus is not
a violation of the Charter, which reads (Article III, Chapter II,
Section 3. The Surplus Fund shall consist of the
moneys remaining at the end of any fiscal year in any
other funds (than the library, school, park, etc., special
funds) after all valid demands, indebtedness and liabilities
against such funds incurred within such fiscal year have
been paid and discharged; provided, that all disputed or
contested claims payable out of such funds have been
The Surplus Fund shall be used for the following pur-
poses and in the order following:
1. In payment of any final judgment against the
City and County.
2. In liquidation and extinguishment, under such
regulations as the Supervisors may adopt, of any out-
standing funded debt of the City and County.
3. To be carried over and apportioned among the
funds and used in the ensuing fiscal year as part of the
income and revenue thereof.
It is plain that the reappropriation of surplus moneys for
purposes indicated in the list given above is not in conformity
with the Charter requirement, and it is further evident that the
framers of the Charter sought to prohibit the practice which is
If proper budget methods were in force, the question would
not arise, inasmuch as there would be no need to create an over-
whelming surplus. All appropriations would have to appear in
the budget, as they should appear, even under the present
system. A less able Finance Committee (always a possibility in
politics) might make costly mistakes in its application of
hundreds of thousands of the taxpayers' money.
GENERAL BUDGET CONCLUSIONS.
The installation of right budget methods is a task for experts.
There have been set down here a more or less complete
summary of the faults of the San Francisco budget with a few
illustrations of what they cost in dollars and cents.
No question is made of the absolute judgment of the Finance
Committee, which has to base its opinions on the facts and
reports that are at hand. Not the opinions of the Finance Com-
mittee, but the foundations for them, are at fault. These should
San Francisco could well afford to pay the best budget experts
in the United States to install a proper system.
No argument should be necessary that the city government
should be equipped with an accounting system that will show
accurately and promptly the costs of each organization, unit and
functional activity for stated periods of time. No progressive
private enterprise can afford to be without such a system.
Right management depends on right accounting.
Right budget-making depends on right accounting.
FACTS, the product of right accounting, when available for
administrative guidance, take the place of rule o' thumb methods.
An elaborate study of the accounting system in force in the
city government was made four years ago and submitted to the
Mayor by four certified public accountants acting for the Mer-
chants Association (now the Chamber of Commerce).
The faults and weaknesses of the system were pointed out
and constructive suggestions were made.
No changes have been forthcoming. The faults and weak-
nesses still exist, together with the expensive, cumbersome
duplication of service everywhere apparent.
A thorough examination into the methods of purchasing sup-
plies and materials for the city resulted in the recommendation of
the following changes, reasons for which are contained in the dis-
Changes Requiring Charter Amendment.
1. The wording of that part of Section i of Chapter II
of Article II of the Charter, relating to the estab-
lishment of a bureau of supplies, should be
changed to make carrying out of provisions
2. Purchasing agent should do all purchasing for all
departments of municipal government.
3. The Charter provision requiring each bid to be con-
sidered separately ("The award as to each article
shall in all cases be made to the lowest bidder
for such article. "Art. II, Sec. 1, Chap. Ill) should
be amended to permit combining in one contract
a number of articles of the same trade classifica-
Under the present law a merchant may be low bidder upon
one article the profit on which would not pay interest on his
certified check. The time for making contracts, the form of
specifications, and the term of contracts should be left to the
judgment of the purchasing agent.
Changes Not Requiring Charter Amendment.
1. Establishment of Central Purchasing Bureau.
2. Establishment of Central Supply Depot.
3. Delivery of all supplies, except perishables, at Cen-
4. Maintenance of adequate inspection service, independ-
ent of Purchasing Bureau and reporting directly
to the Auditor.
5. Substitution, at bidder's option, of surety bond for
certified check or certificate of deposit.
6. Simplification of payment procedure:
(a) Personal attendance at City Hall of merchant
or representative should not be necessary.
(b) Bills should be paid by check and through
the mail instead of in coin at the City
Treasury as at present.
(c) Settlements could be expedited to enable city
to take advantage of all trade discounts
for cash payments.
7. Establishment of central accounting control over all
8. Competitive bids for city teaming business.
9. Investigation of present teaming costs and teaming
requirements with a view to substituting city-
owned motor vehicles for hired teams.
The Board of Supervisors, in December, 1912, through the
addition of four new subdivisions to Section 1 of Chapter II of
Article II of the Charter, was authorized:
1. To provide for and regulate the purchase, storage and
distribution of all supplies for the various offices
and departments, to provide for the establishment
of a Bureau of Supplies and to employ such help
as was necessary.
2. To prescribe the forms in which demands against the
Treasury shall be made and presented, and the
forms in which warrants shall be drawn by the
Auditor and delivered for the payment thereof.
3. To prescribe a uniform system of accounting for the
various offices and departments.
4. To prescribe forms, methods and facilities for keep-
ing the records, documents and files of any office
or department of the City and County, unless
otherwise provided by general laws.
The Charter provision, however, was not made mandatory.
The Board has neglected to exercise in full the authority given
to it, and, inasmuch as the efficient administration of any one,
depends to a great extent upon the adoption of all the others,
the additions to the Charter have not yielded the benefit there
was a right to expect of them.
It was the intention of the designers of these amendments
that the injunction to carry out their terms should be mandatory.
Supervisor Koshland is on record as "insisting" upon the original
wording being retained. The change from "must" to "may" was
made by the Judiciary Committee of the Supervisors, and as
"may" the amendment was submitted and adopted.
What Amendments Would Have Given.
By carrying out the provisions of the amendment, as there is
no reason to doubt it was the desire of the people that they
should, the Board of Supervisors would have given San Francisco:
1. A Central Purchasing Agency.
2. A Central Supply Depot.
3. A simplification of business methods which would
have made the city a more desirable customer.
4. A system of accounting which would have supplied
necessary information which is not now available.
Conditions as They Are.
The Bureau of Supplies was established and placed in charge
of a competent chief. A considerable improvement in the city's
methods of purchasing has resulted from the organization of
Suggestions for simplifying the procedure in the city's dealings
with merchants have not been carried out, and, as a result a
large number of local dealers have taken the view that they
cannot afford to bid on city business, on the ground that the
time wasted in complying with the conditions imposed more than
offsets any profits there may be in a sale.
This reduces the number of bidders and by shutting out a
large, and, in many cases, the most desirable, part of the field,
the city is exposed to the machinations of the contractors' ring —
a negligible evil in a wide field.
The absence of a proper system of accounting makes it im-
possible for the city to get the full advantage of its undoubted
solvency and large purchasing power.
A purchasing agent, possessed of definite knowledge as to the
quantity of a certain supply needed can secure better terms than
when his knowledge of needs is based on the sum of a large
number of more or less vague approximations.
A proper system of accounting would yield this information.
What the present system is worth may be judged by the
statement attributed to the city's expert accountant that to
answer the question: "How much gasoline did the city use last
year?" would entail an expense of thousands of dollars and that
even then the correctness of the answer would be more or less
Step in Right Direction.
The resolution adopted by the Supervisors requiring each
department to furnish, twice a year, a statement showing the
exact quantity of each kind of supplies purchased during the
six months preceding, is a step in the right direction. In the
absence of central accounting control over supplies, however,
the "exactness" of these returns, and, consequently, their ad-
ministrative value, will be open to question.
What Supply Department Now Does.
The chief of the Bureau of Supplies prepares the specifica-
tions on which the city bases its contracts for supplies, and,
when the contracts have been awarded, furnishes each depart-
ment with a schedule showing the dealers from whom supplies
are to be ordered and the prices at which they should be billed.
Theoretically, he also makes all non-contract purchases and
exercises supervision, by inspection, over all deliveries.
In fact, non-contract purchases are made by the departments
needing the supplies and there is no independent inspection of
deliveries. If the receiving employe is incompetent or in-
different, the city must depend upon the honesty of the merchant.
Value of Inspection.
As to the value of this the testimony of the commissary of
the City Prison is of interest. The commissary has held his
position for many years. His integrity and his knowledge of
the supplies he handles are beyond question.
Practically every contractor, he says, with whom he has
dealt during his long experience, has, in his initial deliveries,
made a test of the vigilance of the city's check either by deliver-
ing underweight or substituting a brand or quality other than
specified in the contract. If the shortage or substitution is
detected and the receiving officer makes it plain that he knows
what he is ordering and will insist upon compliance with contract
specifications and on full measure, the contractor, in future de-
liveries usually plays fair.
"All contractors are honest," declares this officer, "when they
know you're watching them."
Non-contract purchases constitute a steadily decreasing per-
centage of the city's buying. The greater part of the non-
contract expenditure is for repairs, which, in their nature, are
not always subject to contract provision.
All non-contract purchases must be approved by the chief of
the Bureau of Supplies.
In some cases he bases his approval on the strength of a
notation on the requisition to the effect that the employe order-
ing the goods has secured several bids, the amounts of which
are given and the lowest of which was awarded the business.
In other cases proposals for non-contract expenditures are
submitted by the chief of the Bureau of Supplies to the Supplies
Committee of the Supervisors and he bases his approval or
otherwise on the committee's decision. The chief of the bureau
maintains no price register or vendor register, as a purchasing
There is no rule governing the procedure and each case of
non-contract purchase is acted on separately.
Departments That Do Their Own Purchasing.
The Department of Supplies has no jurisdiction over the
purchasing for the Park, School, Playground, Library, Law
Library and Election Departments.
Each of these departments makes its own contracts and does
all purchasing, contract or otherwise. Purchasing for these
departments could be handled more efficiently and with greater
economy through a central bureau.
Purchases on contracts made by these excepted departments
may not be participated in by the city as a whole nor by any
department other than the one making the contract. Any depart-
ment, including those excepted from the Supply Bureau's super-
vision, may purchase under any of the city general contracts.
Teaming Contracts not Competitive.
Although the Charter, expressly and by implication, forbids
purchasing except under conditions of open competition — the
lowest bidder to get the business — this rule is not observed in
In the purchase of teaming service, for instance, no bids are
invited, and as a consequence, the city is paying annually for the
hire of teams an amount considerably in excess of the ruling
rates. This works a double hardship on the taxpayers.
1. It costs the city more to hire a team — although it
hires and has use for hundreds of them — than any
private citizen, hiring a team at ruling rates,
would be asked to pay.
2. It bars the way to substantial economies. The in-
fluence which permits the present rate of over-
payment is strong enough to prevent the purchase
of motor vehicles, with which, there is every rea-
son to believe, the city could do its own work bet-
ter and at considerably lower cost.
The Sheriff is permitted to place with whom he wills and with-
out competitive bids, the horse-shoeing business of the County
Jail. This business amounts to more than $600 a year.
It is not necessary, however, that there should be more than
one or two horses at the County Jail. Substituting motor
vehicles for horses would add to the efficiency and economy of
the jail administration.
Suggestion for Simplification not Adopted.
One of the suggestions made for the simplification of the
city's business was to do away with the requirement for con-
tractors to swear to the correctness of their demands and sub-
stitute the simple declaration that the goods were furnished,
that the amount is correct and that it has not been paid, as is
the practice of the United States Government.
The procedure of "swearing to the correctness" of a claim
requires the merchant or his representative to take the demand
to the office of the Board of Supervisors and there take a formal
oath. This means inconvenience for the merchant and consider-
able confusion at the counter of the Supervisors' office — both un-
City Should be Best Customer.
The municipality should be the best customer in the city —
but is not so regarded.
Many of the large wholesale houses refuse to bid on city
contracts for the reason that their customers, the retail mer-
chants, are able, under the present system of purchasing, to
secure this business.
Other merchants refuse to bid on account of the trouble
involved in doing business with the city — such as the necessity
for going, or sending a clerk, to the City Hall to swear to the
correctness of each demand.
Others will not bid because of the city's requirement that
bids be accompanied by certificate of deposit or certified check.
In many cases, they say, the expense of securing this check or
certificate — they must pay interest on it at the rate of 7 per cent
—exceeds the profit on the contract. This might be the case,
for instance, where a bidder on several articles was low on only
one article of which the city used very little. Bidders would be
willing to file a bond.
Another objection registered against city business is that it
takes sometimes 45 days and longer to collect for goods de-
One more objection is that the city, instead of paying by
check and through the mail, discharges its obligations at the
city treasury and in gold coin. This consumes more time and
involves with collection a needless risk.
Advantages of Central Purchasing Agency.
The establishment of a Central Purchasing Agency, and, in
connection therewith, of a Central Supply Depot where all pur-
chases except, perhaps, perishable subsistence supplies, could be
1. Make the city's business more attractive to whole-
salers in that deliveries could be made in larger
2. Make possible the independent inspection of all de-
(The goods are now delivered at the respective
institutions. The samples with which many of them
should be compared at the time of delivery are kept
at the City Hall.)
3. Simplify the establishment of a system of accounting
control over stores and put an end to the prac-
tice now practically universal throughout the city
service of expending the surplus of the appropria-
tion for a given period for supplies to be used at
some future time.
4. Reduce the expense of delivery.
A simplification of the present system of auditing demands
would make the city's business more attractive to the merchant
and would enable the city to take advantage of the trade dis-
counts available to cash customers.
At first glance it might seem that the one-twelfth limit
would operate to curtail the buying capacity of the Central
Purchasing Bureau and that a Charter amendment would be
necessary to give the Purchasing Bureau the free hand essential
This difficulty could be overcome by treating supplies pur-
chased but not issued as expendable assets. This is what they are.
With a properly administered Central Purchasing Bureau,
however; with central accounting control over all supplies; with
stores accounts which would make possible a computation of true
operating costs and the establishment of definite standards, the
necessity for the one-twelfth rule would cease to exist. The one-
twelfth rule is necessary as a physical limit on misuse and ex-
travagance only because the present methods of purchase and
accounting afford no check. Proper accounting would substi-
tute intelligent central control for the present arbitrary and
Sale of Old Material.
Another advantage in the establishment of a bureau for the
purchase and control of supplies would be that the bureau would
be able to exercise supervision over the disposition of old mate-
rial and personal property no longer needed.
The Charter empowers the Supervisors to provide for the
sale at public auction, after advertising for five days, of personal
property unfit or unnecessary for use. The Supervisors have
relinquished this duty to the Mayor.
It is a duty that could be performed more efficiently by the
Central Purchasing Bureau.
Regardless, however, of the department or official to whom
this duty is intrusted, provision should be made for the inspection
of the property to be sold and a definite procedure established.
No property should be recommended for disposal except when
the recommendation is accompanied by a certified report as to its
condition, the reason for its unservicability and its estimated
Before the sale the findings of the inspector should be ap-
proved by the Auditor and both Auditor and Treasurer should be
furnished with full details of each sale.
Suggested Changes Requiring Charter Amendment.
i. Civil Service Commission should be more independent, fi-
nancially, of the Board of Supervisors and absolutely independent
of the possibility of coercion by the City Administration. (Note I.)
2. The experience of other Cities shows that the Municipal
Civil Service Commission should be under State control or super-
vision to remove it as far as possible from local political in-
3. Section 10 of Article 13 of the Charter should be amended to
read: "The Commissioners must (instead of may) strike off
names of candidates from the register (eligible list) after they
have remained thereon more than two years.
Changes Which Would Not Require Charter Revision.
1. The establishment of time and work records throughout
the Municipal Service.
2. The grading of salaries according to duties and responsi-
bilities so that there would be uniformity throughout the service.
The establishment in each class of a minimum salary at which all
new appointees or employes promoted from class below, would
3. The regulation of salary increases according to length of
service and quality of work. The establishment of a rule whereby
work below the standard necessary to justify a salary increase
after a stipulated time would automatically detach the employe
from municipal service.
4. Promotion from class to class to be governed by examina-
tion with allowance for experience based on efficiency record.
5. The preparation of charts showing lines of possible pro-
motion throughout the service.
6. The Civil Service Commission, under Section 14 of Article
XIII of the Charter, is given full authority to investigate the
organization and business methods of the various offices in the
City Government. If this work is hampered by lack of appro-
priation or any other cause the facts could be given publicity.
7. The re-establishment of the Municipal Efficiency Bureau.
8. Prohibition of successive temporary appointments.
9. Insistence that requests for permission to make so called
"temporary" appointments be accompanied by evidence to show
Note 1. — The twofold purpose of Civil Service is:
(a) To restrain appointing officers from using administrative positions
as political spoils.
(b) To establish a central employment bureau ready promptly to pro-
vide fit incumbents to fill any vacancy.
It is an anomaly that the Mayor is permitted to appoint Civil STervlce
Commissioners whose duty is to restrain him and other members of his
administration in carrying out political ambitions and desires.
the necessity for such appointments "to prevent stoppage of pub-
lic business .or to meet extraordinary exigencies."
10. More frequent examinations.
ii. Definite rules regarding physical tests as part of both
entrance and promotional examinations.
12. Periodical physical re-examinations.
Duties of Commission.
The duties of the Civil Service Commission include:
i. The selection by competitive examination, and other-
wise, of employes to carry on the work of the City
2. To ascertain, by supervision, the manner in which ap-
pointees in the classified service are doing their work.
3. To classify, in accordance with duties attached thereto,
all places of employment in or under the offices and
departments of the City and County.
4. To see that so called temporary appointments are made
only in cases of great necessity, and that they are in
fact as in name, "temporary."
5. To make such recommendations to the Legislative and
Administrative heads of the Municipal Government as
will increase the efficiency of the public service.
Examinations are supposed to be held whenever the eligible
list in any class shows signs of becoming inadequate to fill the
demand for new appointees.
The number of "temporary" employes in the classified service
of the Municipality and their retention beyond the sixty day
limit, would seem to indicate that in some grades examinations
are not held with sufficient frequency, or, that an interval too
great elapses between examination and certification.
Delays in calling examinations and announcing results are
said to have been inspired by administrative officials.
In October, 1914, more than 500 positions in the classified
service were filled by "temporary" appointees. These temporary
appointments, made by department heads, are sanctioned by the
Civil Service Commission from month to month. Most of them
have been "temporary" for periods long beyond the sixty day
limit imposed by the Charter. To find out how long any posi-
tion has been filled by a "temporary" or non-civil service em-
ploye would require an independent investigation covering each
position. The Civil Service Commission records do not show
this in available form.
A number of the positions filled by temporary appointees will
probably always be so filled. This is true of many of the tem-
porary appointments in the Health Department. They are posi-
tions filled by inmates of the different institutions and positions
carrying very small salaries or involving service either not gen-
erally regarded as desirable or requiring special skill or knqwl-
edge that can be acquired only in a very limited field. Fifteen of
the "temporary positions" in the Health Department other than
institutional help, pay $35 and less a month. There are, how-
ever, about twenty "temporary" positions which could and should
be filled from the civil service lists.
The entire force of the Assessor's office is rated as "tem-
porary". This will be continued pending the settlement of a
question as to which positions were made "permanent" by the
terms of the charter amendment extending civil service to var-
ious county offices.
In the Board of Public Works are 367 "temporary" employes.
All of these positions would be filled from civil service lists if
examinations were held with sufficient frequency to maintain ade-
quate eligible lists.
The following table shows the number of examinations held
by the Civil Service Commission during the fiscal years 1912-1913,
I9I3-I9H and four months of 1914-1915, to November 1:
Number of J Number
1912-1913 63 3055
1699 placed on eligible list
977 placed on eligible list
Papers not yet rated
Rated but not adopted
to Nov. 1.
Papers not yet rated
Examination held Oct. 31
The fact that there are more than 500 temporary positions in
the classified service, and inasmuch as few of these temporary
positions can be filled from those who successfully pass the 12
examinations of which the results have not yet been announced,
would indicate that the Civil Service Commission is not holding
a sufficient number of examinations. The record for the fiscal
year 1912-1913, when 63 examinations were held, shows what can
be done. The record for the two succeeding years shows a fall-
ing off, which, on its face, suggests the existence of an influence
successfully exerted to keep as many positions as possible under
control of department heads and other appointing authorities.
Some of the examinations on which ratings had not been
made at the end of October were held in April and May. From
the following record of recent examinations it will be seen that
the interval between examination and certification runs from 3%
to 9 months and that there appears to be little relation between
the nature of the examination and number of persons examined
and the length of time it takes to certify results.
Here is the table ©f recent examinations (to Nov. 1, 1914):
Engineers of fire engines.
Captains fire department.
Pantry workers & waiters
Inspectors Mun. Railroads
By the above table it will be seen that the results of the
General Clerks' examination, in which 1037 persons were exam-
ined, were announced in 103 days. The results of the examina-
tion for car repairers, in which only 74 participated, were not
announced for 294 days.
The six examinations held August 24 were all "non-educa-
tional." Marks in such examinations are based upon experience
and physical fitness. The physical fitness is established at the
time of examination and involves no calculation of comparative
degrees. A man is either fit or unfit. Experience ratings are
figured according to the length of time the applicant has worked
at the particular trade or occupation. Applicants submit docu-
mentary evidence as to experience and are marked on a fixed
scale according to its length. Such examinations involve merely
the sorting of credentials according to length of experience, and,
where everything else is equal, a consideration of the applicant's
age, also according to a fixed scale. Why it should take more
than two months to rate the 104 papers involved is not apparent.
More Examinations and Greater Dispatch in Rating.
In view of the large number of positions in the classified ser-
vice held by "temporary" appointeees, it would seem to be
i. More examinations be held.
2. There be greater dispatch in rating papers after an exam-
ination has been held.
That these requirements are not fulfilled is either because:
(a) The Civil Service Commission has not sufficient force to
handle the work; or
(b) The policy of the Commission is to hold few examina-
tions and delay certification as long as possible.
In 1912-1913 the Commission, with its present force, held 63
examinations. It is hardly reasonable to suppose that 16 exam-
inations in 1913-1914 and 9 examinations in the first third of
1914-1915 would swamp the same organization to such an extent
that the results of examinations held in April and May should
be still undetermined at the end of October.
The Eligible List.
The Charter provides that the Civil Service Commissioners
may remove from the eligible list any name that has remained
thereon more than two years. It would be better if this were
made mandatory. As advances are made in methods of munici-
pal administration the requirements in applicants for positions
in the public service become more exacting. The standard of
fitness today will not measure up to the standard of two years
hence. Inasmuch as the Commission has not always exercised
its power to keep the eligible list within the two-year limit,
the Charter should be amended so as to provide for the auto-
matic cancellation of names that have been on the list for two
What the Past Shows.
To secure adequate supervision over the work of appointees
and over the conditions of work in the various departments, as
directed in the Charter, an efficiency bureau was organized. This
bureau made a series of surveys and accompanied reports with
constructive suggestions, the carrying out of which, it was
believed, would have meant reduced expense and increased effi-
These suggestions were presented to the administration heads
and to the Supervisors in the form of recommendations. Excepl
for a few minor suggestions adopted by the Board of Public
Works the recommendations were ignored.
The Supervisors later withdrew all appropriations from the
efficiency bureau and it ceased to exist. The Civil Service '
mission ceased to make further recommendations for the im-
provement of the municipal service.
Commission Does Not Use its Power.
That the Civil Service Commission does not exercise the
power of supervision given to it by the Charter is plain from
the conditions existing in the Sheriff's office. There, civil ser-
vice employes drawing pay for doing one class of work, in a
specified location, are doing nothing, or other work, in an
entirely different place. The duties for which these civil ser-
vice employes are paid are being performed by non-civil service
employes — temporary appointees — whose terms of employment
have long exceeded the sixty-day limit and for whose employ-
ment, originally, there is nothing of record to justify as being
necessary "to prevent stoppage of public business or to meet
Removal of Incompetent Employes.
Under the original civil service provisions of the Charter the
Civil Service Commission was constituted the trial board to
pass on charges preferred against civil service employes.
Administrative heads resented this as an invasion of their
rights to control their own departments. Their objection to
have an outside commission pass on matters affecting the disci-
pline of departments for which they were responsible, was given
by some of the executive heads as reason for retaining incom-
It was in response to this protest that the Charter was
amended to permit the trial of employes by the heads of depart-
ments. The employe, now tried by his own superior, still has
the right to appeal to the Civil Service Commission from a find-
ing which is otherwise final.
Incompetent employes still remain undisturbed. "Too much
trouble" is the reason now given for failure to act.
Department Heads Responsible.
It is apparent that civil service in San Francisco would be
more effective if heads of departments were more exacting in
the quality of work they required from subordinates. The law
now gives them the right to try and dismiss incompetent em-
ployes. The law was amended at their request. They regarded
the former law as interference. There has been no change in
conditions since the Charter was amended.
The declaration of department heads that getting rid of an
undesirable employee by preferring charges of incompetency in-
volves too much trouble, is probably correct. Without properly
supported work records it is virtually impossible to prove in-
The method usually adopted for getting rid of an undesirable
employe is to abolish the position. There is nothing on the
record to indicate the employe's unfitness and the undesirable
thus displaced is restored to the eligible list at his original rat-
ing. The result of this is that, in many cases, he secures an
early reappointment to some position corresponding to the one
in which he failed to make good.
How Irregular Method Works.
As an illustration of how this method works may be taken
the case of a civil service watchman at the Isolation Hospital.
He was assigned to duty at the leper hospital at a monthly sal-
ary of $80. He hired one of the lepers to do his work for $10
a month. The peculiar conditions necessarily prevailing at this
institution made it possible for this arrangement to be main-
tained for a considerable time before it was discovered by the
superintendent. It was discovered and reported. Instead of
preferring charges against the watchman the Board of Health
got rid of him by abolishing his position. The watchman was
restored to the eligible list, and, a few days later, certified back
to the Isolation Hospital to fill a vacancy that had occurred in
the position of night watchman.
The Board of Health formerly employed five food inspectors.
Three of them were incompetent. They were got rid of by
reducing the number of food inspectors to two. Two inspectors
could not adequately cover the field, but as the men removed by
the reduction process were at the head of the eligible list, and
would have been certified back in response to a request for more
inspectors, part of the field was left uncovered. One of these
men, rated unofficially by the Health Department as hopelessly
inefficient, was on the eligible list for four years.
Charter Provides Adequate Relief.
Much of the criticism that civil service fails to provide com-
petent help comes from the heads of departments, the appoint-
ing powers within the municipal government. Presuming the
good faith of this criticism and admitting its foundation on a
basis of fact, the responsibility for this alleged failure rests, in
the final accounting, with the critics themselves.
For the success or failure of civil service to supply compe-
tent employes the heads of departments are directly responsible.
The law placing the greater part of the municipal working
force under civil service not only does not contemplate the reten-
tion of inefficient employes but it specifically provides for their
elimination from the municipal service.
To Get Rid of Incompetents.
In the case of employes who have qualified through civil
service examination and whose employment has been made per-
manent at the end of six months probation, and of employes
to whom permanency was assured by virtue of their having been
in the public service at the time their department was included
in the civil service field, proper supervision and the maintenance
of work records would make possible a demonstration of an
undesirable employe's unfitness from which there could be no
effective appeal. Without records, charges of incompetence must
be based upon opinion. With records, made from day to day,
charges would be supported by facts.
The establishment, therefore, of work records, would furnish
department heads with the means for getting rid of incompe-
tents from among the ranks of the "permanent" employes.
Value of Probation Period.
Employes certified from the eligible list are on probation for
a period of six months. This probationary period gives the
department head power to reject the unfit.
The civil service examination is merely a preliminary test to
eliminate the obviously unfit and to give the applicant pos-
sessed of certain mental and physical equipment an opportunity
to show whether or not his equipment can be adapted to the
use of the municipality. The probationary period is the real
test of fitness.
During this time the department head is given an opportunity
to judge of the probationer's possession of the qualities essential
to efficiency but which are beyond the power of an examination
to bring out, such as industry, accuracy, personal habits and
judgment. After watching his work for six months the depart-
ment head should know whether or not the probationer is fitted
to fill the position to which he has been assigned.
The same Charter provision which makes permanent the posi-
tion of a probationer who has made good, makes it the duty of
the department head to discharge an incompetent probationer.
Only in rare cases has this power been exercised. If there
is basis for the criticism that incompetent employes enter the
public service through the civil service door, the fault lies, not
with the civil service law, but with the department heads, who
are the final judges.
The Civil Service Commissions of Chicago and Milwaukee
have standardized positions and salaries in the municipal service
of those cities. New York, Los Angeles and other cities are now
engaged in a similar work. The experience of all these cities
is available to the San Francisco Commission.
Titles of positions should be descriptive of the duties attached.
Any plan for standardization should include a revision of titles
where they fall short of this requirement.
It is suggested that the Civil Service Commission could se-
cure public support for its efforts by promoting public interest
in its work. The only publicity now afforded is in the way of
advertising vacancies in the classified service.
The public is more interested in how the city's work is
"being done than in the number of places to be filled. The
public pays, not to provide jobs for part of the public, but for
the dispatch of the public business. The public pays well and
is entitled to value for its money.
If the people know that the Civil Service Commission,
responsible under the Charter for the efficiency of the munici-
palitiy's working force, can insure the people value for their
money only by organizing that force in a particular way, the
people will insist upon that organization being put into effect.
If, in the face of a public demand, the Civil Service Com-
mission fails to secure the results which have given other cities
cheaper and better government, the public will want to know
why. If the Commission can then show that the responsibility
for failure lies with the indifference or opposition of adminis-
trative heads, public opinion will take care of the situation.
The Civil Service Commission should take the public into
its confidence. Other cities have done what the people of San
Francisco through the Charter and its amendments have de-
manded. San Francisco will get what it has asked for when a
sufficient number of taxpayers realize the direct connection
between the tax rate and the personnel and organization of the
municipal working force.
Salaries throughout the entire municipal service should be
standardized on the basis of service rendered.
The Civil Service Commission has recently established grades
within four classes of the classified service, in accordance with
salaries. The work will be extended to all classes.
The classes so far graded are:
1. General clerks.
3. Experienced Clerks.
In the first two classes positions paying not more than $100
a month, and positions in the last two classes paying not more
than $125 a month, are rated as entrance grades and hereafter
must be filled from the eligible list.
Positions in a higher grade must be filled by transfer from
the next lower grade, or, if nobody in the lower grade wants
the job, from the eligible list. Selection for advancement to fill
a vacancy in a higher grade will be governed by rating, or, in
the absence of efficiency records, by seniority.
The rule establishing the grades also provides that when the
salary of any position is changed in such amount as to place
such position in another grade, it shall be filled, by transfer, by
the person who would be entitled to fill it had such position
been newly created with such salary.
For the enforcement of this rule and the maintenance of
these grades the Civil Service Commission must depend upon
the co-operation of the Board of Supervisors and administrative
Classification on Wrong Basis.
Classification according to salary is wrong in principle. It
has been tried in other municipalities where salaries, as in San
Francisco, had been fixed by favor and without regard either
for the duties and responsibilities involved, or for uniformity,
and has proved a failure.
The right of the Supervisors and of some of the Commis-
sions to fix salaries, cannot be questioned, nor can the right of
the Civil Service Commission to classify the service and fix the
grade and line of promotion of each office and place of employ-
ment in the classified service. The result, however, is a con-
flict of jurisdiction which leads to the undermining of the merit
law in the interest of individual employes. Municipal employes,
realizing that influence with Supervisors or administration heads
might secure advancement regardless of merit, lose that incentive
to greater diligence and proficiency contemplated by the provi-
sions of the civil service law.
Commission's Faith in New Rule.
The Civil Service Commissioners believe that the new rule
will gradually shake down the classification to a sound basis.
The Supervisors still have the power to create positions and
fix salaries and to grant increases in same, but if the Civil
Service Commission can make the new rule stick, they can no
longer name the beneficiary in these four graded classes.
This, the Commissioners believe, will remove the element of
personal favor from the functions of place making and salary
fixing, and, by recognizing merit or seniority as the only qualifi-
cations for advancement, will inspire in municipal employes a
new interest in their work.
The regrading of existing salaries on the basis of duties and
responsibilities and the adoption of a new classification on that
basis would, the impression seems to prevail, be impossible. It
is recognized that to remove existing inequalities would mean, in
many cases, salary reduction. Where a salary is higher than
the duties of the position justify, it usually means that the
incumbent has been able to exert pressure on the salary fixing
power. To attempt a reduction of these inflated salaries would
consolidate the influences behind them into an opposition which
would be powerful enough, the Commissioners seem to believe,
to prevent any progress in this direction.
New Rule a Compromise.
It is apparently in this belief that the Commissioners have
accepted the present status. Unable to change salaries they
hope, under their new rule, to be able gradually to reshuffle
the employes so that in course of years there will be a closer
relation between merit and pay.
The Commissioners evidently believe that the inability to
name the beneficiary either of a new position or an increased
salary will limit the creation of superfluous positions and do
away with unwarranted salary increases, and that, no new in-
equalities being created, those now existing will gradually dis-
In view of the evident, belief of the Civil Service Commis-
sioners that classification based on salaries will work out finally
to the same thing as salaries based on duties and responsibility,
the following extract from the report of the Chicago Civil Ser-
vice Commission is of interest:
"When the civil service law was passed in 1895
ostensibly taking an army of employes out of politics
and placing them under the merit system, little was
known in American cities regarding correct administra-
tion of civil service. The law provided that the service
must be classified and graded and that promotion must
be from the lower to the higher grades by open com-
petition. The only feasible grading plan readily at hand
was that of the salary received. Therefore a grading
system was adopted based on that alone. It was soon
recognized that the scheme was unsound.
"Pay determined grade — not duties and responsibil-
ity. The personal equation and not competitive exam-
ination as contemplated by law, determined pay. As a
result the principles of civil service were systematically
undermined and the vast majority of persons in the
classified service stagnated for lack of incentive. The
time of the Committee on Finance and of the entire City
Council was occupied with wrangles over individual
claims, and months were wasted during each annual
Standardization of Salaries.
Before the salaries paid in the public service of the City and
County of San Francisco can be rearranged to correspond with
the duties and responsibilities of the various positions, and
classified throughout the service, there must be an agreement
for full co-operation between the Board of Supervisors, a num-
ber of Commissions that have been intrusted with power to
fix salaries and the Civil Service Commission. Public co-opera-
tion will also be necessary insofar as it may be required to
amend the Charter in regard to the compensation allowed for
The Charter fixes a large number of salaries, even of minor
positions. The Board of Supervisors has the power to fix sal-
aries in cases not otherwise provided for. The Board of Health,
Board of Public Works, Park Commission, Playground Com-
mission, Board of Education and Board of Library Trustees all
have salary fixing power.
The appointees of the Park Commission, Playground Com-
mission, Board of Education and Board of Library Trustees are
not subject to civil service regulations.
With the power to fix salaries in so many hands, with part
of the force under civil service regulation and the balance
dependent for their positions upon favor, the problem of stand-
ardization presents difficulties which can be overcome only by
the surrender of the salary fixing power to one authority.
This can be done by co-operation, but will be successful
then only as long as the single authority is guided entirely by
facts instead of favor.
How to Secure Co-Operation.
As a means of securing this co-operation it is suggested that
the Board of Supervisors pass an ordinance which will:
i. Recognize the grades and classes of the Civil Service
2. Provide for uniform salaries.
3. Provide that salaries for new positions in classified ser-
vice be fixed by Civil Service Commission at the same time
that Commission decides on designation of new positions.
4. Prevent appropriations which may place employes out of
5. Recognize ascertained merit and increased duties and
responsibility as the only basis for individual salary advancement.
6. Forbid lobbying or soliciting for salary increase on the
part of any municipal officer or employe.
Resolutions to the same effect passed by the other Boards
and Commissions intrusted with appointing and salary fixing
power would secure, for the future, uniformity of action through-
out the municipal service.
Such co-operation would pave the way for a complete and
uniform revision in which salaries would be based on duties and
responsibility, and, in accordance with the Charter, "like salaries
be paid for like duties."
Need for Readjustment Obvious.
An examination of the salaries as set down in the 1914-15 bud-
get emphasizes the need for readjustment.
In the recent examination by the Civil Service Commission
for telephone operators 184 took the examination. Of the 171
that passed and were placed on the eligible list, 157 were
marked 100 per cent. The Civil Service Commission justified
this generous marking by the declaration that, after two years
experience, all telephone operators were equally competent,
that all applicants who could prove this experience had been
given 100 and a standing on the eligible list in accordance with
their age, 25 being accepted as the age of highest efficiency.
From this it would seem that there should be little varia-
tion in the salaries paid by the city and county to telephone
operators. The budget tells another story. Of fourteen tele-
phone operators one is paid $540 per annum, another $720, a
third $780, ten are paid $1020 and the topnotcher receives $1200.
There are other discrepancies on which the titles of the
positions throw no light.
One "Stenographer-bookkeeper" is paid $960. Under the
same title another is paid $1500.
The salary of one "clerk-stenographer" is $2400, but when
the title is reversed, "stenographer-clerk," the salary is $1500.
The "stenographer-typewriter" in the Coroner's office is
paid $1800 a year. The "stenographer-typewriter" in the Dis-
trict Attorney's office is paid $900.
For positions carrying the title "stenographer" the compensation
varies from $720 to $2400. (Chart VI.) There are 2 at $900
4 " 1020
4 " 1080
9 " 1200
1 " 1320
1 " 1380
5 " 1500
1 " 1680
2 " 1800
1 " 2100
4 " 2400
"Messenger" in the Superior Courts means a job paying
$720 a year. In the Coroner's office the "messenger" is paid
$900; in the Department of Electricity, $1020; in the Recorder's
office, $1200, and in the Board of Public Works, $1500.
The Work of Standardization.
San Francisco, and every other city that would secure
effective service, must learn to deal with its working forces on
some other basis than abuse, indifference, cajolery, favoritism
The complaint is made that, even under civil service, which
secures permanency of position to the competent employe, it
requires just as much outside influence to secure an advance
in salary as it did, in the old days of the spoils system, to
secure a municipal position.
Employes must feel the incentive to work, from definite
opportunities ahead. The public service in San Francisco offers
this incentive now only in a limited degree and in certain
The Civil Service Commission is the authority upon which
the Charter imposes the duty of reorganizing the municipal
service. The foundation of this reorganization must be the
standardization of salaries, throughout the municipal service,
on a basis of duties and responsibilities.
How Salaries May be Standardized.
Similar reorganizations have been effected in other munici-
palities and from their experience the Civil Service Commission
*i s $ $ ! s i ! $ ,? s s s §5$ 8 $ $ $ s
can profit to the extent of securing a plan of procedure that has
stood the test of practice.
i. A definite classification should be made of each
position, based on independent investigation of duties act-
ually performed by each employe.
2. A definite scale of salary rates should be marked out,
based upon the nature of duties of each position.
3. Title should be readjusted so as to be descriptive of
4. Adoption of classification of positions, rates of com-
pensation and revised titles as standards.
5. Certain factors should be decided upon for efficiency
ratings in each department, adopted as a standard and
periodical reports rendered to central authority.
6. All promotions and demotions in salary rates should
be based on these reports.
For the effective application of the civil service principle
classification is essential. The public service has benefited by
the limited classification that has already been effected in the
municipal service. An illustration showing the relation between
classification and civil service and how both directly affect the
tax payer may be taken from the recent records of the Civil
Under an amendment to the Charter in 1912 the authority cre-
ating a new position must secure from the Civil Service Com-
mission the proper designation of such position. At a recent
meeting of the Civil Service Commission there was received from
the Board of Public Works a communication to the effect that
the Works Board desired to appoint an "inspector of patent
chimneys" at $150 a month. The Civil Service Commission was
asked to supply a title for the new position. The Civil Service
Commission replied to the effect that the inspection of patent
chimneys came within the duties of a building inspector, that
there was no need for any new designation and that an inspector
capable of doing the work would be certified to the Board of
Works from the eligible list of building inspectors.
The Board of Works replied to the effect that as long as
the work could be done by a "building inspector" there would
be no need to certify anybody, as the inspectors already on the
payroll would be able to do all the "patent chimney" inspecting
that would be required.
This incident also serves to illustrate an important advantage
of civil service from the tax payers' point of view. Where the
appointing power is not able to select the appointee, or, to put
it another way, where the appointment is made on a basis of
merit instead of personal favor — either to the appointee or his
friends — only necessary appointments are made. There is no
reason to doubt that in the case quoted, if there had been no
civil service to classify the "patent chimney inspector" as a
building inspector, and if there had been no list of eligible
building inspectors, the municipal payroll would have been
saddled with a needless charge of $150 a month.
Civil service has taken more than 4000 positions beyond the
reach of personal favor and placed them on a merit basis.
The extension of civil service to all branches of the city
service would mean the elimination of patronage and make pos-
sible a reorganization of the municipal forces which would make
the municipal service attractive to the best class of worker and
would insure the tax payer value for the money expended in
salaries and wages.
All applicants for places in the classified service shall
be subjected to examination. . . . Such examination
shall . . . include, when appropriate, tests of physi-
cal qualifications, health, etc. (Sec. 4, Article XIII of
The Commission shall provide for promotion in the
classified service ... by competitive examination.
(Sec. 8, Article XIII of the Charter.)
From the above extracts from the Charter it is plain that
good health is deemed an essential requisite for employment in
the public service and that the Charter enjoins upon the Civil
Service Commission the duty of applying to candidates for pro-
motion the same tests used in selecting and grading applicants
for places in the classified service.
Rule Just to City and Employe.
Of the wisdom and justice of this requirement there can be
no question. The municipality, which offers permanent employ-
ment at good pay, is entitled to the best that the employe can
give. No employe in poor health is able to fulfill his side of
the contract. The employes of the municipality have an equal
right to protection from any danger that may threaten, or undue
demands that may be made on them, by reason of any disease
or physical disability of which a fellow employe may be the
In the case of new appointments the Commissioners do
apply such physical tests as are deemed sufficient to comply
with the law. Such tests are not applied, however, in all cases
As a business precaution, the physical test is even more
necessary in establishing fitness for promotion than for original
entrance. Promotion implies increased salary and the more the
city pays an employe the greater the importance that the ser-
vice rendered be efficient. Furthermore, increased salary, in cer-
tain branches of the municipal service, means increased pension
in case of physical breakdown.
On a recent occasion, in the fire department, officers were
promoted to higher rank, with increased pay, carrying increased
pension rights, who, it was frankly admitted, were physically unfit
to pass the tests which should have been imposed
1. In obedience to the Charter;
2. In justice to the tax payer, and
3. In the interest of efficiency.
An appeal to the State Supreme Court was taken from the
action of the Civil Service Commissioners and upon the decision
that will be handed down the future policy of the Commission
will be based.
Whatever the decision of the courts in this particular case,
the Civil Service Commissioners should establish a definite rule
regarding physical examinations so that there can be no mis-
understanding in the future as to the necessity for a candidate
for promotion, in any branch of the classified service, proving
his physical fitness.
Periodical Physical Examinations.
To the Civil Service Commission is intrusted the duty of
securing for the public service the highest efficiency. It is
suggested that one of the means for attaining this end would be
periodical physical re-examinations for all employes in the classi-
This is done by many commercial organizations and has
proved as beneficial to the individual employe as to the service
of which he is a part.
In the light of past experience, whether this suggestion is
adopted or not, the Commission should without delay establish
a definite rule making the physical test part of the promotional
examination as it is of the entrance examination.
Three departmental studies have been made and the results
are presented with this report. Where the studies have devel-
oped what appeared to be shortcomings their enumeration has
been accompanied by suggestions for their remedy.
These studies emphasize the need of a complete survey of
every department of the municipal government.
One of the methods that naturally suggests itself as a means
of meeting the growing expense of carrying on the public busi-
ness is to increase the efficiency of the present machinery;
Before this can be accomplished an exact knowledge of exist-
ing conditions is necessary. It is necessary to know the field of
activity actually covered by each department and division; the
amount of work being done; the methods by which it is carried
on and the means used in recording and measuring results.
To know that the entire field is covered it is also necessary
to know the full extent of that field; to learn from Charter, ordi-
nances and state law the duties imposed upon each department,
division and official.
A comparison between what should be done and what is being
done will reveal such neglect of duty as may exist and will call
attention to the advisability either of enforcing or repealing
overlooked laws and regulations.
The next step would be a consideration of how things are
done with a view to finding out how they could be done better.
The only way to secure all this information is through the
process of a complete survey.
Surveys are necessary:
i. To locate faults in organization.
2. To disclose such weaknesses as may exist in admin-
3. To test administrative and control value of account-
4. To secure co-ordination between departments in
their relation to the municipal government as a whole.
A survey of departmental organization would include all offi-
cials and subordinates and show the duties and responsibility
undertaken by each. Duties and lines of authority for each
position should be standardized, defined and reduced to writing
and the whole summarized graphically in chart form.
Such a chart will show how thoroughly the work of the
department is organized. Careful study of the chart will indi-
cate the lines of shifting in organization that will secure the
best attention to the entire work involved and the most effective
distribution of duties and responsibility.
Value of Charts.
When such changes as are decided upon have been made
each department and division should be furnished with an
amended chart. Such charts enable new officials or employes to
gain in a few minutes a general knowledge of the work of their
department, and of the particular responsibilities resting upon
them. Under present methods an officer may spend a year or
longer in his office without such complete and necessary knowl-
The organization charts accompanying this report are merely
descriptive of present conditions. No attempt has been made to
present systematic criticism or to formulate constructive plans
for overcoming defects in the organization. These charts, how-
ever, furnish the starting place for further study and will serve
their purpose if they focus the attention of officials and citizens
on concrete problems of organization.
Weakness in Administrative Methods.
Some of the faults of administration may be due to legal
regulations and restrictions imposed by Charter, city ordinances
and state law. A study of these regulations and restrictions and
the effects of their application would make possible a deter-
mination of the changes in the law which would be required to
permit changes in administrative methods.
The business methods of each department should be studied.
This would include such activities as purchasing, handling of
contracts and supplies, and methods of employing and supervis-
The Charter gives full authority for the installation of an
accounting system uniform throughout the service. A survey
will show how far the present system falls short:
1. In the exercise of control.
2. In yielding information of administrative value.
In each department studied the accounting system was dif-
ferent and in none was it of value except to measure the decline
of the annual appropriation. In no case were accounts found
to be of administrative value. In no case was evident any desire
to make such use of them. The question of cost, as a measure
of value received, appears to be given no administrative con-
sideration and the establishment of standards is not attempted.
In studying the departments in their relation to the govern-
ment as a whole one object in view should be the readjust-
ment ot overlapping functions and conflicting responsibility.
Consideration of the departments in their relation to each
other would involve a study of functions now performed by
one department or division but which might be administered
more naturally and more efficiently by another.
For instance: plumbing inspection, which involves problems
solely of construction, is under the jurisdiction of the Board of
Health, while problems involving the amount of air space per
occupant in a proposed lodging house — sanitary problems — are
passed on by the Bureau of Building Inspection. Between street
cleaning and street repairing the relation is too close, in the
opinion of some authorities, to permit of these functions being
efficiently administered by separate organizations.
These are some of the problems upon the right solution of
which efficient and economical administration depends.
Conditions Justify Survey.
In addition to appropriating the necessary money to make
such a survey the Board of Supervisors should give the work its
full support. The findings and recommendations resulting from
the survey should, from time to time, be made public to the end
that public interest in the work be aroused and sustained.
In the growing cost of government may be found ample war-
rant for incurring such expense as may be necessary to make
such a survey. That it would pay is sufficiently indicated by
the results of the studies made by this Association.
The departments selected for study were:
i. The Police Department, because police protection
costs, in San Francisco, more per capita than in any other
city in the world.
2. The Health Department, because the per capita cost
of health and sanitation in San Francisco is unusually low.
3. The Sheriff's office, because it is believed that the
Sheriff as a peace officer is superfluous in a consolidated
city and county government and that the administration
of the office involves much needless expense.
In all these departments the public has a vital social as well
as financial interest. The total expense of the three departments
for the present fiscal year is $2,424,043 or 16.25 per cent of the
The study of the Police Department developed the fact that
little more than half the force — 56.24 per cent — is engaged in
street patrol duty. The charts accompanying the report show
how the remaining 43.76 per cent is distributed.
Past reports and available records do not contain the informa-
tion upon which any estimate of the efficiency of the depart-
ment can be based. Judged by the measure of cost San Fran-
cisco should have the most efficient police department in the
world. The department records do not show whether or not this
is the case. With the report are suggestions as to how this
information can be developed.
The study further showed that the San Francisco Police
Department makes no provision for the adequate instruction of
new officers; that the detective bureau is very much larger than
provided in the Charter; that police officers are detailed to
clerical positions which could be filled more efficiently and at
less cost to the city, by civilian clerks; that police officers are
performing duties in various municipal departments which could
be intrusted to uniformed messengers; that the City Prison is
well managed but that there and in other branches of the
department the accounting for supplies is such as neither to
afford control nor yield information of administrative value.
The study of the Health Department shows the need of
adequate cost accounting and accounting control over supplies.
The work of the department appears to be well organized
and on this account it is deemed of importance that the account-
ing system be so ordered that standards may be established
by means of which the department's continued efficiency and
the efficiency of future administrations can be measured.
The position of Sheriff as a peace officer and a keeper of pris-
oners could be merged, without any sacrifice either of efficiency
or public convenience, with that of Chief of Police, and this with-
out adding any considerable burden to the head of the Police
Department. The advisability of so amending the Charter is
In view of the fact that the form of local government makes
the position to a large extent superfluous, the compensation now
enjoyed by the Sheriff is too large.
In the accompanying study of the Sheriff's office some com-
parisons are made of the salary paid to the Sheriff and that of
other public officials, municipal and federal.
Attention is also called to certain fees now retained by the
Sheriff and which, it is believed, should legally be paid into the
city treasury for the benefit of the municipality.
Attention is called to the administration of what is known as
"Sheriff's patronage" and how it bars the adoption of obvious
economies which would further increase efficiency.
Changes Requiring Charter Revision.
1. The experience of other cities shows that greater
efficiency in the management of a police force
results from intrusting the administrative power
to a single commissioner instead of to a board
composed of several members.
2. It is desirable that the Police Commission should
have full control in the matter of enforcing the
laws. The present Charter confers this power
but, in the light of past history, it might be ad-
visable for the Charter to be so amended as to
specifically make the Police Commission inde-
pendent of the city's legislative body.
Changes not Requiring Charter Amendment.
i. Establishment of records to show hours of service
2. Establishment of inspection service under direct con-
trol of Commission.
3. Maintenance of personal efficiency records, based on
most approved methods of police administration.
4. Use of efficiency records in determining fitness for
Under the present system an officer may be
promoted because he is a good student. By bas-
ing promotion on record he would be promoted
only because he was a good policeman.
5. Special investigation by Civil Service Commission of
personal history of all applicants for positions on
6. Establishment of school of instruction in which new
officers could be trained and all officers made
familiar with improved police methods.
In this connection new officers should be de-
tailed for duty as bailiffs in the police courts.
This would afford the recruit a schooling in court
procedure which would help him, later on, in the
intelligent preparation of cases for trial. It would
also eliminate from the service eight "soft jobs"
to obtain which members of the department fre-
quently enlist outside influences.
7. Revision of method of selecting men for detective
duty to limit such assignments to officers showing
The detective bureau as at present constituted
is too large — it has three times as many mem-
bers as the Charter provides. Assignments to
detective duty are largely matters of favor, not in-
frequently concessions to outside influence. Im-
proper assignments to the detective force weaken
►See organization chart of Police Department, Chart VII.
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the street patrol and at the same time hamper
the work of the detective bureau.
8. Employment of civilian clerks to do much of the
clerical work to which members of the uniformed
force are now assigned.
9. Recall to police duty of officers now assigned to
different municipal departments. Their places in
the departments could be filled by uniformed
10. Standard notebooks for members of the street patrol
and installation of more complete system of
11. Installation of accounts at the City Prison by means
of which standards of feeding costs and other
expenses could be established and unit costs re-
12. Installation of records in the police photograph
gallery which would show currently the use made
This both for the information of the Commis-
mission and the public and for the protection of
the officers detailed to the gallery.
13. Simplification of records in the property clerk's
It is believed that this can be done without
any sacrifice of the safeguards which now protect
the property and evidence intrusted to that
14. Withdrawal of privilege permitting police officers to
receive money rewards for services performed
in the line of regular duty.
The tendency of this practice is to inspire
special diligence in work likely to yield extra
recompense and cause a corresponding neglect
of other duty.
15. Prohibition of the sale of tickets for any purpose
by members of the uniformed force.
16. Revision of the form of annual report.
(a) The present report gives no account of the
administration of the City Prison although
this institution costs the city annually, in
salaries and maintenance, more than
(b) Although the Police Department costs the
city annually more than $1,500,000 the re-
port includes no financial statement ex-
cept the records of transactions affecting
the police pension fund.
(c) The tables of arrests are without value as in-
dicating the efficiency of the department.
They do not show the proportion of ar-
rests made on the initiative of the depart-
ment and the proportion resulting from
(d) There is no comparison made between num-
ber of complaints and number of arrests.
(e) There is no table showing the disposition of
(f) There is no report of the work done by the
Cost of Police Protection.
San Francisco pays more for police protection than any other
city of the United States. The local force is probably the most
expensive organization of its kind in the world. A survey of
the department's methods and organization was undertaken for
the double purpose of finding out why its cost was so much
greater than in similar cities and whether or not its efficiency
was such as to justify the high expense.
Taking the figures of the United States Census Report for
1912 as a basis — and this is the only available reliable basis for
a just comparison — police protection costs in San Francisco 43
per cent more per capita than the average cost in the first
fifteen cities of the United States, including San Francisco.
The per capita cost in San Francisco was $3.43 per annum.
The average per capita cost in the first fifteen cities of the
United States, including San Francisco, was $2.40.
Comparison with Cities of Similar Size.
From the same authority a comparison may be made between
the cost of the San Francisco Police Department and that of six
other cities of approximately the same size — having a population
of from 400,000 to 600,000.
Here are the figures:
City. Population. Per Capita Cost.
Cleveland 596,970 $1.50
Baltimore 569,560 2.21
Pittsburgh 550,667 2.07
Detroit 503,445 2.01
Buffalo 439,666 2.20
Milwaukee 400,488 1.54
SAN FRANCISCO 433,488 3-43
The average per capita cost of the above named six cities is
$1.92, or 78 per cent lower than the San Francisco cost.
Compared with Other Seaports.
One of the reasons advanced for the high cost of the local
department is that San Francisco is a seaport city. A compari-
son with other large seaports does not confirm this.
City. Per Capita Cost.
New York $2.97
Boston • 3-19
New Orleans I-I2
Seattle T -54
Average for the above 2.29
SAN FRANCISCO 3-43
From this it will be seen that police protection in San Fran-
cisco costs 50 per cent per capita higher than the average per
capita cost in six of the largest seaports of the country.
Police Department not Only Expense.
In addition to the most expensive police department in the
country — if not in the world — San Francisco supports several
varieties of "special" police, numbering in all more than 700,
and more than a score of detective agencies.
The cost of this supplementary police protection is not avail-
able. The expense is borne by individuals and corporations and
by them distributed among the community in the form of higher
Organization of Police Department.
The Police Department is under the management of three
commissioners and the executive head — the Chief of Police — is
appointed by them.
As the department is now organized (see Chart No. VIII)
only 56.24 per cent of the force is engaged in street duty. The
other members of the force are detailed to detective duty, sta-
tion duty and special duty.
Special Duty — Policemen as Messengers.
The assignment "special duty" covers a variety of occupa-
tions, many of them but remotely connected with police work.
The majority of the policemen assigned to the municipal depart-
ments could be returned to duty and the work they are now
doing intrusted to uniformed messengers.
Policemen as Clerks.
Policemen are picked for certain mental, moral and physical
qualities, the possession of which is supposed to fit them pecu-
liarly for police duty. They are picked and then trained.
In recognition of the special fitness exacted and of the risks
involved in police work, members of the force are paid a very
high rate of wage. The salary for a patrolman in San Francisco,
be he novice or veteran, is $1464 a year or $122 a month. Pro-
motion is based on merit and the conditions of retirement,
whether for age or disability, are on a generous scale.
In San Francisco more than 11 per cent of the men thus
picked and paid are assigned to duties which neither require
the fitness nor involve the dangers which are the principal fac-
tors in establishing an unusually high rate of remuneration.
In addition to those performing messenger service for the
different municipal departments many are assigned to purely
Civilian clerks would do better work for considerably less
money and their employment would not only make possible the
maintenance of adequate records but would release more than
100 trained men for active police duty.
DISTRIBUTION 5AHFRRNCI5CO POUCE FORCE
Practically fifty members of the regular force are on duty
with the detective bureau. Three of them — a corporal and two
patrolmen— as chauffeurs. There are also about twenty members
of the regular force on plain clothes duty, conducting special
investigations for the Chief of Police.
There are no records maintained by which the efficiency of the
detective bureau can be judged but there seems to be no doubt
that there are too many members of the regular force assigned
to that bureau, that their selection is not based on personal fitness
and that their retention does not depend upon their making
School of Instruction.
In the San Francisco Department no systematic provision has
been made for the instruction of recruits. New members of the
force, while waiting for their uniforms, are sent out with patrol
officers and given some opportunity to absorb some knowledge
of their duties. What they get beyond this, in the way of
instruction, depends upon their own powers of observation and
the interest taken in them by their company commanders.
Eight patrolmen are now detailed for duty at the police
courts as bailiffs. Selections are made by the Chief of Police
and appointments to this duty are regarded as marks of favor.
The presence in the police courts of uniformed officers is
probably a necessity, principally on account of the moral influence
the uniform is presumed to exert. A uniformed recruit, how-
ever, would be just as morally effectual as a uniformed veteran.
It is suggested that only recruits be assigned to this duty, a
month or two of which would give the new officer a working
knowledge of court procedure which would be of material aid
to him in the future in preparing his cases for trial.
The City Prison, located on the top floor of the Hall of
Justice, is well managed. In the matter of administrative records,
however, there is much to be desired. While it is possible from
the records now maintained to dig out practically any informa-
tion that may be desired no provision has been made for current
reports of facts of administrative value.
The commissary is well administered, which is the best
reason why standards should be established by which subse-
quent administrations could be judged.
No records are kept of the unit costs of feeding and mainte-
nance, all expenditures being jumbled together in one continuous
and uncontrolled account misnamed: "Subsistence of Prisoners."
Here, as elsewhere in the city service, surplus appropriation
is used for the purchase of staple supplies. No stores accounts
are kept and without these a computation of operating costs
is not possible.
Stores accounts are necessary — and lacking — in other bureaus
of the Police Department. The purchase, care and distribution
of supplies used in the Police Department are intrusted to five
(a) The property clerk;
(b) The Commissary clerk;
(c) Police photographer;
(d) Officer in charge of automobile repairs;
(e) Officer in charge of motor cycle repairs.
Throughout the department care seems to be exercised in the
inspection of purchases upon delivery, testing them for weight
and quality and making careful comparison with invoices.
The property clerk issues supplies only on requisition signed
by the head of the division making the request. He keeps a
record of all supplies issued by him.
Further than this, however, there is no record of supplies
beyond the fact of their purchase. No stores accounts are kept
and no report is made as to the use made of supplies.
In the police photograph gallery where a large amount of
expensive supplies is used and where work is done for a num-
ber of city departments other than the police department, there
is no record whatever of the use made of supplies; an inventory
of supplies is never taken and the record of work done in the
gallery is very incomplete.
There should be accounting control over all supplies handled
by the police department both for the protection of the officers
handling them and of the city.
Property Clerk's Records.
In addition to handling and issuing certain supplies the
Property Clerk is the custodian of property taken from prison-
ers, property held as evidence, stolen property recovered but un-
claimed and of such lost property as comes into the hands of
the police. Assisting the Property Clerk (who holds the brevet
rank of captain) are i corporal and 5 policemen.
Detailed records are kept of all property coming into this
office and of its disposition. The system by means of which
this is done appears to be unnecessarily cumbersome. It is
believed that a system could be installed which would furnish
adequate protection to property and evidence and could be main-
tained at considerably less expense to the city.
The salary cost of the Property Clerk's office amounts to
Records of Personal Service.
Service records by means of which the personal efficiency of
members of the force could be judged are not maintained, al-
though promotions are supposed to be based on merit.
Police officers seeking promotion from one rank to a higher
are required to pass a civil service examination. In addition to
passing this examination the candidate's record of actual service
should be satisfactory. Without adequate service records there
is no means of judging this. Under the present system promo-
tion comes not so much because an officer is a good policeman
as because he is a good student.
Rewards for Policemen.
Police officers are now allowed to retain rewards paid by out-
siders for success in certain lines of work. The government pays
a reward for the arrest of deserters from the army and navy;
the newspapers pay a reward for the arrest of a newspaper
thief; rewards are paid from time to time for the recovery of
A percentage of all rewards is paid into the police pension
fund. The balance goes to the officer.
It is believed that this practice tends to make many officers
devote their best if not exclusive efforts to cases that promise
rewards and that the value of this occasional extra compensation
as a spur to diligence is more than offset by the neglect it may
cause of routine duty.
Policemen as Ticket Sellers.
Every year the police force gives a ball for the benefit of the
widows and orphans fund. Tickets for this ball are sold by mem-
bers of the department, usually during hours of duty and to the
citizens on their respective beats.
It is unfortunately true that many citizens regard a request
from the policeman on the beat as a demand to comply with
which is good policy. On this ground alone this practice should
The Annual Report.
The annual report of the Police Department is of little
value either as a record of its activities or a demonstration of
its efficiency. This, to a large extent, is the natural result of
not maintaining adequate, current records.
The report should show the unit costs of the different func-
tions, and, where possible, comparisons should be made with the
cost of doing similar work in other cities.
The tables of arrests should show the proportion made on
the initiative of the department and there should be a compari-
son between the number of complaints and the number of
arrests. The report also should show the disposition of each
case in order that the public could judge whether or not the
police were making unnecessary arrests and with what care they
prepared their cases for trial.
The report should also include a record of the work done
by the detective department.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH.
Changes Which Would Not Require Charter Amendment.
i. Installation of time and service records for all employes
in all branches of the Health Department with regular
reports to enable Central Office to maintain a complete
2. Use of time reports as base for payrolls, and service
records as guides in regulating salaries and determin-
ing fitness for promotion.
3. Standardization of positions and salaries throughout the
service and revision of titles so that they would be
descriptive of duties. This work can be best done in
co-operation with the Civil Service Commission.
4. Establishment of accounting control at Central Office
over all stores in all institutions under jurisdiction of
Board of Health.
5. Distribution on Central Office records of expenditures
for personal services, supplies and materials in all de-
partments according to the functions or projects into
which they enter.
This would make possible:
(a) The current computation of costs of all opera-
(b) The establishment of standards by means of
which the administrative authority could judge
the efficiency of:
(2) Operating methods.
6. Uniformity of expense segregation so that the cost of
similar work in different institutions, and in the same
institution at different periods can be intelligently com-
7. Inclusion in the expense records of the department all
outlays and expenditures for maintenance and repairs
and operation regardless of the source from which the
money is derived. As it is now a considerable por-
tion of the annual expense, such as for gas, electricity,
water, postage, stationery, the cost of many repairs
and some janitor service, does not appear at all on
the records of the department.
8. Uniforms for members of the department's inspection ser-
9. The inspection reports in the Monthly Bulletin issued
by the Health Department would be more illuminating
if, in each division, the percentage was shown of the
entire field covered.
To illustrate: In February, 1914, 102 bakeries were
inspected. This would mean more if the total
number of bakeries in the city was stated.
io. To secure a fairer distribution of the cost of inspection
many of the businesses subject to the department's
supervision might be compelled to pay for this work
in the form of licenses.
It is suggested that a survey be made of the entire
inspection field, showing the cost of each kind of
inspection and the proportion of each field now
covered by the service. This report could be used
as the basis of recommendations to the Supervis-
ors asking that license ordinances be passed.
11. Incorporation in reports of Tenement House Inspectors
of points that might be of value to City Planning Com-
12. Closer co-operation between the work of the District
Sanitary Inspectors and the division of school hygiene.
13. Extension of the use of score cards to all businesses
subject to inspection with publicity, particularly in cases
where a low score indicates reluctance or neglect to
comply with health requirements.
14. The establishment of a publicity department under the
direction of the Health Officer. This would cover a
field of activity now neglected. Properly directed pub-
licity would interest the public in the work of the
Board of Health, and, by securing better co-operation,
would add to the department's efficiency.
15. A reorganization of the Central Emergency Hospital so
that the personal attendance of the Chief Steward out-
side of his regular, official day, would not be neces-
16. A survey under competent direction — such as the Agri-
cultural College of the State University — of the farm
land in the Relief Home Tract, to ascertain how the
land can be most profitably cultivated and to demon-
strate the advisability — or otherwise — of extending this
form of industry.
THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT is a branch of the City
Government charged with supplying certain services for which
the public pays.
The public is entitled to value for its money. To ascertain
whether or not the Health Department is rendering this full
measure it is necessary to measure service against cost. In no
other way can the test of efficiency be applied.
In comparison with other cities of the United States the per
capita cost for health and sanitation in San Francisco is low.
The average per capita cost in the first 18 cities of the Uni-
ted States, ranging in population from 300,000 to 5,000,000, includ-
ing San Francisco, was, according to the report published in
1012 by the United States Census Bureau, $2.
Omitting San Francisco the average was $2.03.
San Francisco's per capita cost was $1.45 or 28.57 per cent
lower than the average in seventeen cities.
THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT maintains:
The City and County Hospital.
3. Isolation Hospital.
4. Relief Home for the Aged and Infirm.
5. Emergency Hospital Service.
All of these are operating concerns, exactly analogous to
private institutions, except that the people pay for maintenance
instead of the patients.
THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT provides:
1. Sanitary Inspection.
2. Sanitary Disinfection.
3. Food Inspection.
4. Dairy Inspection.
5. Milk Inspection.
6. Market Inspection (Meat, etc.).
7. Plumbing Inspection.
8. Industrial Inspection.
9. Tenement House Inspection.
10. Medical Inspection of Schools.
These services are paid for by the public whose wish — and
right — it is always to get full value for money expended.
The Quest for Facts.
In the quest for facts upon which to base an estimate of the
efficiency of the Health Department a survey was made of all
the institutions maintained by the Board of Health, and of the
working of the various field departments. To each division an
effort was made to apply the test of efficiency by measuring ser-
vice against cost. It was in this attempt that the inadequacy
of some of the records maintained by the Health Department
No facts were sought which should not have been currently
available for the purposes of control and direction.
System of Accounting.
It became evident early in the quest that the system of
accounting at present in use is of little value except as a meas-
ure of the monthly decline of the various apportionments of the
The present system:
1. Does not show currently the cost of particular ser-
2. Does not account for supplies beyond the record of
Work Well Organized.
The field work of the department is well organized. The
system of records — of work — is such as to give the executive
officer and the Board of Health the information necessary to
Complaints from the public are given prompt attention.
Written complaints are acknowledged and the complainant is
advised of the action taken.
A system of reinspection insures thorough work.
By means of lectures and other instruction the field forces
are kept in touch with advancements in sanitation.
The work appears to be well done, but, inasmuch as work
must be paid for, its cost is an element which must be consid-
ered both by those in charge and by those that supply the
Furthermore, the better the work the more essential it is to
establish cost standards.
It is in supplying information as to costs, currently and in
easily available form, that the records fall short.
The food inspectors, for instance, do part of the work credi-
ted to milk inspection and the milk inspectors spend most of
their time inspecting dairies.
No records are kept showing the distribution of the time
devoted to each particular division of work.
Without this distribution it is impossible to apply to any
of these divisions the cost test of efficiency.
Records That Tell Nothing.
The milk inspection division, from the period from July I,
1913, to March 31, 1914, is charged with a total expense of
$1340.57. Of this amount $1124.77 is for personal service; $63.80
for supplies and $152 for buggy hire.
The work credited to this division is the taking of 3202
samples of milk.
This would make it appear that the cost of sampling milk
was at the rate of .418 cents a sample.
As a matter of fact — there is no record of this, however —
more than half the samples were taken by the Food Inspectors,
none of whose remuneration is charged to this account, and
practically all the charge for buggy hire was incurred in Dairy
Furthermore, taking the sample is only part of the expense
involved in the inspection of milk. There is no record of the
cost of chemical and bacteriological examinations.
Charging to Milk Inspection service devoted to Dairy and
Food inspection makes the records of all three divisions as now
maintained of no value in estimating the costs of these services.
Nor can the cost of milk inspection be computed without a rec-
ord of the time and material expended on this work in tin-
Most of the information necessary for computing the cost
of the different kinds of service is already reported. To make it
available, however, for administrative purposes, the information
must be distributed according to the particular service with
which it deals.
The inspectors in all branches of the field service turn in
daily reports showing the work performed. The laboratory
keeps a record of work done. In addition to the present infor-
mation, now used solely to keep track of work, these daily
reports should show:
i. Time devoted to each kind of work.
2. Amount of material used.
3. The expense, such as transportation, incurred.
From these reports the distribution could be made under as
many heads as necessary for the guidance of the controlling
authority and the information of the public.
This would make possible the preparation of a daily report
which would give the executive officer of the board the infor-
mation which the manager of a private enterprise would con-
sider a necessity.
An Adequate Report.
Not only has the department within itself the information
necessary for proper cost accounting, it has in the division of
disinfection a system of reporting which might serve as a
model for all other field divisions. The disinfectors' daily
report shows the amount of work done, the time spent on each
job, the amount of material used and the space disinfected.
Stores and Supplies.
Another bar to the application of the cost measure was
encountered in the failure of the present system to exercise
control over stores and accountability for the use of supplies.
There should be, at each institution, records to show cur-
1. Goods received.
2. Goods that should be on hand.
3. The use made of goods issued.
At the Relief Home, City and County Hospital and Tuber-
culosis Hospital stores records have been installed but no admin-
istrative use is made of them and there is no accounting con-
trol over them.
Present Control Inadequate.
Under the present system the only control exercised over
stores and supplies by the Board of Health, through the Health
Officer, is the latter's O. K. on all requisitions and the limit
imposed by the one-twelfth requirement.
The Health Officer's approval is more or less perfunctory In
the majority of cases as the requisitions submitted for his ap-
proval give him no information, such as the amount of the par-
ticular commodity on hand, by means of which he can judge
the necessity for the purchase.
The one-twelfth requirement does not, in practice, limit
purchases to the necessities of the period in which they are
Reasons for Control.
Adequate control over stores and a strict accounting for
supplies is necessary:
i. To check waste.
2. To prevent misappropriation.
3. To compute costs of operation.
The inadequacy of the present control was emphasized by
the discovery, over a year ago, that supplies at the Tuberculosis
Hospital were being stolen and sold by employes.
In June, 1913, before the thefts were discovered and at a
time when there were 149 patients in the hospital, this requisi-
tion was approved by the Health Officer:
1400 doz. eggs.
500 pounds of fish.
700 pounds of butter.
The thefts were discovered, the thieves cleaned out and a
new commissary appointed. In November, 1913, with 200 pa-
tients to provide for the egg and butter and fish requisition for
the month was:
1500 doz. eggs.
360 pounds of fish.
500 pounds of butter.
No standards had been established by means of which the
superintendent of the hospital could estimate the food supplies
actually needed for the number of patients to be cared for and
there were no records at headquarters to guide the Health
Officer in approving the June requisition.
As a matter of fact the actual fare provided for the 200
patients in November was better in every way than the 149
patients received in June from a considerably greater expendi-
No such standards have been established yet.
The opportunity for misappropriating supplies still exists
and will until a system of accounting for them has been in-
What is true of the Tuberculosis Hospital is equally true of
every other institution under the jurisdiction of the Health
Supplies and Costs.
Theoretically, supplies are bought for institutions under the
Board of Health only in quantities sufficient for one month.
In practice, it is the custom, at certain times, to purchase
in much larger quantities.
In May and June, 1912, there was bought for the Tubercu-
losis Hospital linen to the value of $300. In May, 1913, mat-
tresses, muslin and blankets, amounting to $381.90 were bought
for the same institution.
In each case the purchase was entered as an operating cost
of the month in which the purchase was made, although, as a
matter of fact, the supplies were not issued until months later.
Similar purchases (in excess of the month's requirements)
are made by all institutions whenever it appears that there is
going to be a surplus over the estimated expenditures.
The reason for expending surplus in this way and entering
such expenditure as a current operating charge is to be found
in the method of financing municipal institutions on the basis
of what they spend instead of on what they actually use.
There is no objection to the purchase of staples in large
quantities where this will effect a saving. Where it is done,
however, merely to increase the expenditures of one year for
the purpose of securing a large appropriation for the next fiscal
year it is bad practice.
Instead of treating all purchases as current operating ex-
penses, all supplies should be charged to stores accounts and
should appear as operating expense only when actually issued
for use. !
The establishment of stores accounts, with a controlling
account at the Central Office, would make it possible to dis-
tribute the expense of supplies to the periods and functions in
which they were used and would serve as an inventory of the
unissued supplies, of which there is now no record.
Segregation of Expenditures.
In the method of segregating expenditures was found another
barrier against the application of the cost measure.
In the office of the Auditor of the Board of Health expendi-
tures affecting the Central Office are segregated. Expenditures
are segregated at some of the institutions. The segregations,
however, are not uniform throughout the service and the dis-
tribution in many cases is such as to render impossible, without
re-analysis, a computation of operating costs.
Supplies That Are Not Supplies.
In one institution, under the heading "General and Kitchen
Supplies," and as such to be considered as operating costs of
the month in which they are entered, are included charges for:
Paint and roofing material.
Electric coffee mill and meat chopper.
Repairs to water heater.
The power to remedy this situation lies within the depart-
ment. A system of segregation similar to that in operation in
the Bellevue and Allied Hospitals of New York City could be
installed under the supervision of the Auditor of the Board of
Health. This would provide the uniformity that is now lacking
and would insure a distribution of expense charges such that
the records would yield, currently, information which now must
be dug out by a laborious process of analysis.
Cost Measure at Relief Home.
The application of the cost measure to the Relief Home is
impossible without a record of the amount and value of the
In his annual report for the fiscal year ending June, 1913,
the Superintendent said:
"I would again repeat what I said last year as to the value
of inmate labor. Although the saving to the city is great the
benefit to the old people is far greater."
He submits, however, no figures to show the value of this
Without definite knowledge its value can only be presumed
and the Board of Health is without data which would be in-
valuable in consideration of plans for its extension.
The fact that the Relief Home may be administered with
economy and efficiency makes it all the more necessary that full
and illuminating records be maintained in all departments so
that standards may be established by which future administra-
tions may be measured.
Relief Home Activities.
The Relief Home operates, largely with inmate labor:
1. A farm.
Shoe repairing shop.
Building and repair department.
The social value of utilizing inmate labor is fully recognized.
Without a knowledge of its financial value there cannot be
full and intelligent extension of its use.
This financial value can be ascertained only through accounts
which will report, in the case of each industry, the cost of its
maintenance and operation and the value of the work produced.
The information needed for these accounts could be drawn
largely from records now maintained.
Such accounts would:
i. Establish standards by means of which the efficiency
of the administration could be tested.
2. Prevent the misuse of funds provided for inmate labor.
3. Prevent misuse of the products of inmate labor.
4. Point the way to a higher degree of self-support.
Relief Home Farm.
The Relief Home Farm should be an important factor in
contributing to the support of the institution. Its value cannot
be judged by the records now available.
The suggestion is made that the Board of Health obtain
the co-operation of the Agricultural College of the State Uni-
versity in making a survey of the farm land at the Home
(about seventy acres) for the purpose of establishing how this
land should be used to the greatest permanent advantage in
meeting the Home's needs.
It is also suggested that co-operation be brought about
between the Civil Service Commissioners and the Agricultural
College in the matter of fixing the qualifications of the "farmer"
instrusted with the supervision of the Relief Home Farm.
Essentials for Cost Accounting.
That a current knowledge of costs of operation is essential
for intelligent administration will not be questioned. The Board
of Health is now working without this knowledge.
The essentials for proper cost accounting are:
1. Time records.
2. Work records.
3. Stores records.
4. Segregated expense accounts.
Time and work records can be used also to establish records
of individual efficiency. Such individual records are invaluable.
1. To the employe, because they give him a standing
based on fact instead of favor.
2. To the service generally because they produce the
spirit of wholesome competition, one employe with
another and each with his own past record.
It is only by a system of stores accounting that the charges
for supplies dispensed can be distributed as costs of the various
functions or projects into which they enter. Stores accounts
also supply the only reliable information upon which appropria-
tions can be based.
With proper records of time, work and stores all the ex-
penses incident to carrying on the work of any division or
institution can be so distributed that the completed record will
yield currently all the information needed for official information
of things done or the wisdom of doing them.
San Francisco enjoys the reputation of having an efficient
Health Department. This is one of the best reasons why ade-
quate records should be maintained.
Licenses to Pay Inspection Costs.
Commercial enterprises whose operations are subject to sur-
veillance by the Health Department should contribute, in the
form of fee or license, a sum sufficient annually to cover the
cost of inspection. This would make possible an extension of
the inspection service which, for lack of funds, is now limited.
It is suggested that the Board have an analysis made show-
ing the costs in each division of the inspection service of each
particular kind of inspection. This information could be used
as the basis for an ordinance, fixing such fees or licenses, to be
submitted to the Board of Supervisors.
Changes Requiring Charter Amendment.
1. The salary of the Sheriff is out of proportion either
to the duties and responsibilities of the office or the
value of the service that he renders to the community,
and should be reduced.
2. If the Sheriff is legally justified in appropriating for his own
use certain fees paid by the State for services performed
by deputies in the pay of the City and County, the Charter
should be amended to require the payment of these fees
into the treasury for the benefit of the general fund.
Changes Which Would not Require Charter Amendment.
1. Discontinuance of road work by prisoners at the County
Prisoners now so employed could be put to
work in jail truck gardens and the services of
six road guards and a number of horses could be
2. Substitution of one motor vehicle for two vans and
3. Disposition of all but one or two of the horses now
maintained at County Jail.
4. Return to duty at the County Jail of commissary clerk,
superintendent of jails and bookkeeper for all jails,
or reduction of their salaries to the value of the
•See organization chart of Sheriff's office, Chart IX.
'AIL //* /
ABOVE r#/S £MTE
at crry /Mii
/ - /aoo
£ - foe
/ - /2-oQ
2. — 900
Men- civil ^tri/ice*
Civil <$€ri/TG* .
7err*x>o-r<rry AffOTntXe. .
O/^K^A/Y/^lA 7-/0/V C/IAA? TT-
o***~/C£z. /tAf£> crcHs/y-ry zta/l-
services they render and amendment of their titles to
describe their actual duties.
5. Establishment of stores accounts at the County Jail.
This is necessary to prevent misuse of supplies and
material and for protection of employes handling sup-
plies and material.
6. Segregation of expenditures at County Jail and in
Sheriff's office so that standards of expense could be
established and unit costs of subsistence and other
functions computed currently.
7. Maintenance of records to show expense of cultivating
city land in vicinity of jail, the products therefrom,
their market value and final disposition.
This to insure the proper use of such products
and to furnish information which would be of use
in considering the extension of this form of
8. If a druggist is necessary at the County Jail, he should
be there. If a visiting physician is what is needed
the title of the position should be changed to describe
the duties actually performed.
The City and County pays $1200 a year for the
services of a druggist at the County Jail. The
position was created March 12, 1909, by the
Supervisors. The ordinance — No. 690 (New Se-
ries) — authorizes the appointment, by the Sheriff,
of a licentiate pharmacist "to take charge of the
dispensary at the County Jail." The dispensary
at the County Jail was in charge of a prisoner
when this survey was made and the position of
"Druggist" held by a practicing physician who
paid a daily visit to the jail. It was plainly the
intention of the ordinance creating this position
that the jail druggist should render full time
9. Abolition of the position of druggist and an arrangement
made with the Board of Health for maintenance of
drug and medical service at the County Jail. The
Board of Health now employs 29 physicians and 15
internes between whom the medical necessities of the
County Jail could be distributed in such a way that
it would add little to their present duties.
[O. Determination, by means of suit brought by the City
Attorney, of the Sheriff's right to retain the money
paid by the State for the services of deputy sheriffs
engaged in escorting prisoners and insane patients
to state institutions.
It is believed that under the decision rendered
in the case against the County Clerk, in which
it was held that he had no right to retain fees
received for the naturalization of aliens, the
Sheriff is not entitled to this extra compensation.
The Charter, Section 34 of Article XVI, spe-
cifically limits the compensation of municipal
officials and employes to the salaries provided in
The salary of the Sheriff is out of all proportion either to
the duties and responsibilities of the office or to the service
that he renders to the community.
In addition to a salary of $8,000 a year, paid by the City
and County, the Sheriff receives fees from the State, which in
the fiscal year ended June 30, 1914, amounted to $5,050. This
additional compensation is paid by the State for the services
of deputy sheriffs as custodians of prisoners en route to the
state penitentiaries and patients sent to the state asylums for
For the services of these deputies the State pays at the
rate of $5 a day. In addition the State pays all transportation
expenses and hotel and board bills. In the majority of cases the
deputies who do this work are members of the Sheriff's permanent
force, and as such are paid by the City and County for their full
Under the present arrangement, however, the money paid
by the State goes to the Sheriff, personally, in direct violation
of Section 34, Article XVI of the Charter, which reads:
"The salaries provided in this Charter shall be in
full compensation for all services rendered, and every
officer shall pay all moneys, no matter from what source
derived or received, into the Treasury of the City and
County within twenty-four hours after receipt of the
Sheriff Has No Police Duty.
Although the salary paid to the Sheriff of the County of
San Francisco is the highest paid to any Sheriff in the State,
the office is of less public importance than in most counties
for the reason that by virtue of the consolidation of City and
County government, the Sheriff of San Francisco is relieved of
all police duty.
Under these circumstances it is suggested that consideration
be given to the possibility of making the Chief of Police the cus-
todian of prisoners and so limiting the Sheriff's duties.
Comparison with Other Salaries.
In view of the unimportance of the Sheriff's position in this
county a comparison of his salary with some of the salaries
paid by the United States government is interesting.
The salary paid to the Sheriff of San Francisco is $500 a year
more than the salary of a United States Senator; $2,000 more
than the Comptroller of the United States Treasury is paid;
$3,000 more than the pay of the rear admiral in charge of the
Bureau of Navigation — practically the general manager of the
United States Navy — and twice as much as the government
pays either the Chief of the United States Secret Service or
the Superintendent of United States Prisons.
Reduction Would Increase Efficiency.
If the duties of the Sheriff could be limited, as suggested above,
the salary should be reduced. This, it is believed, would result
in the more efficient administration of the office.
The discipline in the Sheriff's office is good and the work
appears to be performed in a satisfactory manner. A time book
is maintained in which employees are required to record their
arrivals and departures and employes on outside work are
required to turn in a report of their activities showing location,
time and volume of work done.
Administration of County Jail.
For the maintenance of this institution the Supervisors for
a number of years have made an annual appropriation of $45,000.
There is also set aside $2,500 a year for "Sheriff's Expense"
and from this appropriation also part of the maintenance cost
of the jail is drawn.
The $45,000 is set aside under the head: "Subsistence of
Prisoners." This title is misleading as more than 30 per cent
of the appropriation is used for other than subsistence purposes.
No Necessity for Two Appropriations.
The need for two appropriations is not clear. Judging from
the charges made to these accounts the selection of the fund
to bear a particular expense is governed more by the discretion
of the Sheriff than the nature of the expenditure. As a rule,
non-contract purchases of supplies and service — such as horse-
shoeing — are charged to the "Sheriff's Expense Account." When
this account, however, has been exhausted, maintenance expendi-
tures, non-contract or otherwise, are charged to the so-called
The dispensation of the $2,500 appropriation is referred to,
in the Sheriff's office, as "Sheriff's patronage." It is not suggested
that the Sheriff pays from this fund for any service or article more
than the market value. The element of "friendship" involved,
however, is not conducive to good business practice and is cal-
culated to hinder the elimination of unnecessary expense.
Horses not Necessary.
There are 16 horses at the County Jail. For the six months
ended June 30, 1914, the cost for feed amounted to $2,257.17. Shoe-
ing for the same period amounted to $31775- There arc two
stables and in charge of each is a guard at a salary of $600 a
year. This, without allowing for the value of the labor of the
prisoners who feed and care for the horses and exclusive of
other stable expense makes the annual cost more than $6,300.
By doing away with all but one or two of the horses the use
of forage in large quantities would be eliminated. The horses are
no longer necessary.
Substitution of Motor Vehicles.
The new County Jail (in the rear of the Hall of Justice)
will be finished shortly and ready for the accommodation of
prisoners awaiting trial on felony charges. The opening of
the jail will reduce materially the number of prisoners to be
hauled back and forth daily in the van.
One motor van could be substituted for the five horses (and
three drivers) now used on the prison van, insane patients van
and the commissary wagon.
A motor does not get tired. Three trips or ten trips a day
could be made between jail and city if necessary.
An automobile runabout could take the place of the Super-
intendent's buggy, if it is necessary that he should have some-
thing of the kind.
Six horses are used by the road gang. For several years past
the Finance Committee of the Supervisors has recognized the
fact that the work of the road gang was no longer necessary by
recommending the abolition of the six road guard positions
(annual salary $900 each), but the Board has refused to acquiesce.
There is, however, every reason why this pretended road
work, which costs the city nearly $10,000 a year, should be
First. There are no records of the work done that might
show its possible value.
Second — Restrictions imposed by anti-prison labor influences
limit the work to "unaccepted" streets.
Third — Only a few prisoners are worked in these gangs.
Fourth — It is frankly admitted that much of the time and
labor of the road gangs is devoted to grading or otherwise
improving private property. The excuse is made that this work
is done for "poor people," but there are no records available
and it is obvious that in any case the work of the road gangs
is merely part of the Sheriff's patronage.
Inside the reservation there is plenty of work for all of the
inmates. There are extensive prison gardens, which are only
partly cultivated, and in addition thereto, the city owns con-
siderable land adjoining the reservation which could be put to
profitable use in the same way. With the proper use of the
land, possibly under the direction of the Agricultural Depart-
ment of the State University, it is estimated that vegetables
could be grown to supply all of the city institutions.
What Could Be Saved.
The elimination of the road gang would do away with the
need for six more horses. The substitution of motor vehicles
would take the place of the others. The stables would be no
longer necessary and the two guards now acting as stablemen
would be released for other duty. The forage and shoeing bills,
amounting to more than $5,000 a year, would be eliminated.
Records at County Jail.
At the County Jail there are no records of stores or equip-
ment on hand, or of the unit cost of feeding prisoners.
Records are kept at the Sheriff's office in the City Hall
in which expenditures are segregated but there is no central
control over supplies after their purchase. This is necessary
both for the purpose of computing costs and to prevent the
misuse of supplies.
Administration of Jail.
For reasons entirely unofficial the superintendent of the
County Jail and the commissary were transferred from the
jail to the Sheriff's office in the City Hall. The duties of the
superintendent were turned over to an office deputy, a temporary-
appointee. The superintendent has a desk at the Sheriff's office
but no duties, and, as far as could be learned, does no work
beyond "helping out" occasionally in a rush.
The commissary department at the jail is in the hands of
a jailer, also a temporary appointee. The official commissary,
at the City Hall, attends to the purchasing and keeps the
records formerly kept at the jail, from memoranda furnished
by the acting commissary. He does the purchasing and keeps
the records, but, under the present arrangement, is barred
from inspecting deliveries and exercises no supervision over
the issuance of supplies.
Jail Bookkeeper Also at City Hall.
The "bookkeeper for all jails" is also located at the City
Hall. When the Sheriff removed the superintendent, the book-
keeper, a non-civil service employe, refused to remain and take
orders from the office deputy who was appointed superintendent.
Although the Sheriff had the power to dismiss the bookkeeper
he did not exercise it. Instead, an office deputy, inexperienced
in beekkeeping, was detailed as bookkeeper for all jails and the
employe appointed to that position and drawing pay for that
work — $1,500 a year — is allowed to put in his time "helping
out" in the Sheriff's office at the City Hall.
No attempt has been made to estimate in dollars and cents the
savings that could be effected in San Francisco through the adop-
tion of improved methods of transacting public business. It has
been deemed sufficient to point out and illustrate concretely some
of the avoidable causes of present waste.
The problem is not hopeless. In the past ten years the munici-
pal research movement, begun in New York and later extended to
almost every large city in the country with the exception of San
Francisco, has gone a long way toward reaching a solution. In
the experience of these cities, certain definite principles, practices
and methods have come to be accepted as standards and are now
readily available. Immediate and positive advantages are known to
follow upon their adoption.
San Francisco must make a beginning, now or later. On the
basis of this report, the program of municipal betterment should
consist of the following steps:
i. A fuller development of revenue sources.
2. Installation of a modern accounting system.
3. Adoption of exact budget methods.
4. Creation of a central purchasing agency.
5. Standardization of salaries and work.
6. Preparation of organization charts for each department.
7. Publication of more informing reports.
It must not be forgotten that the alternative is a steadily in-
creasing tax rate, greater waste and a harder problem in the end.
CALIFORNIA STATE TAX ASSOCIATION
The CALIFORNIA STATE TAX ASSOCIA-
TION is a non-partisan, non-political organization
devoted to promoting a wider public interest in the
important subject of taxation.
The objects of the Association are
"to correct existing evils and inequalities in taxa-
tion; promote economy in public expenditures, both
State and local, and to formulate and announce the
most progressive economic thought and administra-
tive experience available for the correct guidance of
public opinion, legislative and administrative action
on all questions pertaining to State and local tax-
President John S. Drum
First Vice-President J. F. Sartori
Second Vice-President M. L. Rcqua
Secretary Dudley Cates
John S. Drum
Allen G. Wright
B. F. Schlesinger
George T Klink
C. O. G. Miller
J. F. Sartori
Geo. I. Cochran
W. E. McVay
W. W. Mines
H. W. O'Melveny
M. L. Requa
OFFICE: 1118 HOBART BUILDING,